The Discovery Channel’s president, Paul Lewis, approved a promotional campaign for the rapidly rotting cable channel’s “Shark Week” that included a fake video, shown above, intended to “go viral” and convince people that there are sharks in Lake Ontario. After the video prompted the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources to warn swimmers and anxiety over the shark sighting was expressed in social media, the channel’s ad agency admitted that it was hoax. Some people still don’t believe it’s a hoax, however, because they’ve seen “Jaws.” After all, claiming a real sighting is a hoax to save the tourist season is just the sort of thing Amity Mayor Larry Vaughn would do, right?
Or that equally slimy Paul Lewis would do. Here is his despicable, ethics-free “apology”:
“We didn’t want it to be something that would negatively impact people’s summer…It’s unfortunate that some people took what we did so serious. If we upset anybody, of course I apologize for that. It would be totally counterproductive for us to go out there and upset and disturb our audience.”
First of all, how does someone become president of a communications company who uses “serious” like that?
Second: Lewis is a liar and an idiot. The video was intended to fool people. Of course the people who swim where your fake video suggests there are big sharks waiting for them still take the video “serious”–what would you expect? This is a non-apology apology that literally means “I’m sorry people were upset by the video we made to upset them, and we certainly didn’t intend to upset people who matter—you know, the idiots who watch our channel. Now I’m counting on this controversy to boost ratings—it’s a win!”
Discovery Channel, I’m warning you: fire this guy now. Not for the irresponsible stunt, although that would be justified, but because the hoax combined with his statement is signature significance. This guy doesn’t know right from wrong, ethics from a hobby horse. He is corrupting your staff and its culture by the second, and he is capable of almost anything, because his ethics alarms are either rusted dead or were never installed. The fact that he also appears to be incapable of beating Forrest Gump at Scrabble only adds to the urgency.
It might already be too late.
Pointer: Alexander Cheezem