A Fox & Friends "interview" that quickly turned into a reverse-engineered mutation of Between Two Ferns has highlighted a notable, if obvious, shortcoming with the Fox News network: it isn't big on what elitist intellectuals from the Northeast would call "research," but what the producers at Fox call "uggggggghhhhh."
Earlier this morning, former Miss America (this will be an important plot point later so pay attention, constant reader) and current front wheel on the Fox & Friends morning tricycle ride Gretchen Carlson interviewed a young bro named Max Rice, who was introduced to Fox viewers with the somewhat unremarkable epithet "recent college grad and former Obama supporter." In fact, Rice is neither of these things — he is a current film student at Columbia College Chicago and very much an Obama supporter. The interview with Carlson was a prank, meant, Rice later told TPM's Tom Kludt, to underscore just how shitty and partisan Fox (and more generally, cable news media) can be.
Rice explained that the interview, which literally fell into his lap and started purring like a broken go-kart engine when a "friend of a friend" working for Fox went chumming for a disillusioned former Obama supporter for a special Fox segment (no bias, bro), was arranged with hardly any vetting on the network's end. All he had to do for his TV debut was fill out an email checklist that confirmed he had, in fact, voted for Obama back in 2008 and that he was no longer happy with the fearless leader now.
Rice, however, pointed out that he wasn't even old enough to vote in the ‘08 election, a fact it seems might be pretty easy for the research gremlins at Fox to verify if they hadn't been so delighted to sniff out the fresh, young blood of Democratic apostate who they could feed to Roger Ailes' pet rancor. In his TPM article, Kludt offers some more evidence that easily-accessible evidence of Rice's age was floating on the internets, noting that a quick YouTube search of "the name ‘Max Rice' shows a similar-looking young man delivering a high school commencement address in 2010," but a sad, doe-eyed intern locked in a broom closet was probably tasked with vetting Rice and decided doing so would be a bridge too far. (TV Newser also dug up a video of Rice doing stand-up in a nearly empty Austin coffee shop, which should only be watched by people with a high cringe threshold).
As for the interview, well...it was goofy, of course, and pretty awkward. Carlson gets especially frustrated when Rice calls her "Miss USA," a definite no-no in the pageant universe. Just before the segment's merciful conclusion, Carlson tells Rice that he's not ready for prime-time, which may be true, but, according to Rice, is so not the point:
I don't care if there's any negative press about me. I think there's a greater issue. Our media should be a tool to educate the masses, instead of getting ratings and selling Cheetos. This is proof.
It's certainly proof that Fox will bend or elide facts to better fashion a narrative to fit its conservative agenda, but we already knew that, and, besides, every news outlet is looking for an angle. We could probably have been complacent with this knowledge without yet more evidence that Fox & Friends is especially awful, but, for anyone who can't muster even a tiny bit of empathy for an obviously bewildered Gretchen Carlson, Rice's stunt can serve as a trump card in arguments with older, conservative relatives about the veracity of Fox News reports.