Sadly, this is how the web works.
Sarah Palin was guest on Jay Leno’s return to NBC’s “Tonight Show,” and inexplicably did something of a stand-up comic routine. One of the audience members was a non-admirer of Palin named Michael Stinson, who didn’t think she was funny. After the taping he sent out a “tweet” on his Twitter account that read, “Listen for me laughing, no one else is.” Stinson says he was shocked when he saw the broadcast, as Palin’s jokes seemed to be getting big laughs. He sent out another Tweet that read, “I know sound. And it’s my opinion that audio portions of Sarah Palin’s March 2nd appearance on Jay Leno’s Tonight show were added or amplified, edited before broadcast to make it appear that Sarah Palin was more welcome than she was.”
The Daily Kos, the Angry Left icon, then ran the tweet with the headline,
“Leno’s Tonight Show Reality Hacking, adds Laugh Track to Sarah Palin Appearance”
This was promptly picked up by other blogs and Twitter-users. Stinson got his fifteen minutes of fame, and interviews with The Washington Post and Howard Stern. That Sarah Palin’s laughs were enhanced by NBC was now officially “fact,” as far as Palin-haters were concerned, and much of the blogosphere as well.
NBC denied that Palin’s laughs were anything but genuine.
Now admittedly, accusing the Daily Kos of being unfair to a conservative politician is akin to accusing the Wile E. Coyote of persecuting the Road Runner. Still, what the site did was represent one man’s unconfirmed or substantiated opinion as fact, and that is unfair and dishonest. Who is Michael Stinson, other than a Palin-loathing sound technician? Why is his word to be accepted over that of NBC? If the taping was altered, why is Stinson the only audience member who noticed it? Shouldn’t there be some confirmation of a random tweeter’s 140 character representations before they become a news story?
Well, of course there should, if you want to be fair and care about conveying facts. The Daily Kos, which cares only about ideological combat, not truth, intentionally misrepresented a Tweet (Stinson has done nothing wrong, other than to state his opinion and label it as such) to its readers and the world as fact in order to 1) embarrass Palin, whom it believes is never due any fairness or responsible treatment 2) show that there is a “corporate media” conspiracy to help Republicans, which, when the employer of Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz is involved, makes as much sense as trying to show that Elmer Fudd supports rabbits, and 3) start a rumor.
In fact, the Daily Kos’s fanatic desire to do anything to attack Palin, even silly and pointless things like this, is the real issue. Why would NBC, which never used enhanced laugher to make it seem that Conan O’Brien’s excruciating opening monologue jokes weren’t bombing, put all this effort into making Sarah Palin, of all people, look like Shecky Green? How would Sarah Palin’s reception as a stand-up comic enhance or undermine her political career in any way? Why would NBC care?
On top of that, the whole matter of what Palin’s laughs were like is too subjective to settle with any certainty. Audience laughs are amplified in all such shows; what the TV audience hears is never the same as what the studio audience hears. What is the “real” level of laughs? I have no idea. I have directed stage comedies professionally, and assessing an audience’s level of laughter is part of the job. I know that when I’m in an audience, I don’t notice the laugh level while I am laughing myself. I know that if one is in a pocket of laughers, it will seem like the whole audience is laughing when they may not be. I know that it is not unusual for a reviewer in an audience that I thought was very responsive to write later that the comedy was bombing, or the opposite. And I have many times been surprised, viewing a videotape of a live performance I attended, to find that the audience reactions sounded nothing like I remembered them to be.
Thus, the only fair conclusions are 1) Stimson’s theory is unlikely 2) it is impossible to prove, absent a NBC whistleblower 3) it doesn’t matter one way or the other and 4) it’s not worth worrying about.
Except that the Daily Kos knowingly published a false and irresponsible headline, proving once more that the Left’s cruel obsession with bashing Sarah Palin knows no bounds.
That’s the ethics alarm, not Palin’s applause.