There has been a battle brewing for years between the “real news” and the fake news, with poll after poll showing that more and more Americans get their news from comedy shows like “The Daily Show.” Who can forget Jon Stewart’s throwdown with the hosts of “Crossfire?“ More recently, Stewart got into a fact-fight with Bill O’Reilly (and won), and became a hero-of-the-moment to the right for pointing out the mainstream media’s abdication on the ACORN story.
Now, it seems the “real news” is acknowledging the fake news as its equal, as CNN runs a “fact check” segment dissecting a Saturday Night Live sketch: (h/t Hot Air)
While there is certainly value in fact-checking a comedy skit that is widely replayed on all of the other news networks, this is usually the purview of the more partisan blogosphere, and of filmmakers like Sarah Palin booster John Ziegler. A fine example of this comes at about the 2:30 mark in this clip, where CNN references Tina Fey’s “dead-on” impersonation of Palin, without ever mentioning its factual verisimilitude.
As a matter of fact, Saturday Night Live clips featured heavily in the 2008 Presidential campaign, but usually, the discussion centered around the larger points raised by the sketches, not a fact-by-fact analysis. One cable network even played a snippet of a sketch alongside a snippet of an actual Palin interview to show how they matched exactly. In this case, there was no attempt to clarify or provide context, but simply to laugh. Can you guess which network it was?
This is basically the other side of the coin, as they give the impression that the entire sketch used Palin’s actual interview as its script. They could have clued viewers in that the rest of the sketch did not match the interview verbatim.
By framing the segment as a fact check, CNN is providing conservatives with confirmation that the mainstream media is “in the tank” for Obama, despite evidence to the contrary. They could have accomplished the same thing by deconstructing the clip as part of a broader examination of the way comedy fiction becomes popular fact.
Perhaps CNN isn’t being inconsistent, but rather instituting a new policy. If that’s the case, I can’t wait to see their first fact-check of “Family Guy.”
Update – Via email John Ziegler offered the following comment:
“This CNN “bit” is far more hilarious than the SNL skit. The funniest part (other than them doing the piece to begin with) is that CNN claims that parts of the SNL sketch couldn’t be further from the truth and yet I can’t find one thing that they cam close to proving was totally untrue. I am still waiting for CNN to “fact check” Tina Fey implying Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her “house,” which 87% of Obama voters and many members of the news media (including Barbara Walters) wrongly believed she did. This is simply Media Malpractice in the extreme. I wish I could say I am surprised, but I am not.”