From Tweet to Blog to Lie: Palin’s Laughs

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.

6 thoughts on “From Tweet to Blog to Lie: Palin’s Laughs

  1. I’m no fan of Palin (She seems at turns overly vacuous, and at others a cunning liar), but this seems inherently unfair. It’s like a visitor to a photo blog saying that the image is shopped, and giving nothing to back up his claim but some vagueness about “I’ve done shops before, and the pixels look shopped”. If you’re going to make claims, give something concrete..

  2. The Daily Kos actually wrote a series of articles on little ol’ me! I had never heard of them before but was amazed at the conclusions they would jump to with no evidence whatsoever. They accused me of being things I didn’t even know the definition of (a dominionist)… So I lost any thought of credibility relating to them.

    A wise man once told me you can tell a lot about a man (or a woman) by the enemies they make. I once had the KKK mad at me and I was proud of it. I feel much the same about the Daily Kos…

    Sheriff Ray

      • From the Skeptic’s Dictionary:

        ” Dominionism is the view that the goal of Christian ultra-fundamentalism should be world dominion, that is, ‘to bring all societies, around the world, under the rule of the Word of God.’

        Its most common form, Dominionism, represents one of the most extreme forms of Fundamentalist Christianity thought. Its followers, called Dominionists, are attempting to peacefully convert the laws of United States so that they match those of the Hebrew Scriptures. They intend to achieve this by using the freedom of religion in the US to train a generation of children in private Christian religious schools. Later, their graduates will be charged with the responsibility of creating a new Bible-based political, religious and social order. One of the first tasks of this order will be to eliminate religious choice and freedom. Their eventual goal is to achieve the “Kingdom of God” in which much of the world is converted to Christianity. They feel that the power of God’s word will bring about this conversion. No armed force or insurrection will be needed; in fact, they believe that there will be little opposition to their plan. People will willingly accept it. All that needs to be done is to properly explain it to them. (”

  3. Thanks, Jack, for posting this. I had seen the report (I don’t remember where) and had mentally assimilated it–careless me. Glad you straightened us out.
    Just yesterday the LA Times reported about the rumor that Chief Justice Roberts was contemplating retirement. A Georgetown law professor had unintentionally started the rumor as a lesson in the importance of checking out stories. NBC (Pete Williams) comes across as the hero of the short-lived event.

  4. It seems to me that rumors are a double edged sword. If I were interested in making a tweet into a bona-fide article, I’d make sure it wasn’t a trap. The Daily-Kos was lucky that this guy was just a rumor mill, not a guy setting them up to take the bait.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.