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An informed source told me this afternoon that Bernard Goldberg's appearance on CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch turned out to be a sandbag to attack Goldberg and his book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37). The interview, which airs at 10:30 pm EDT on Wednesday night, starts off as a one-on-one with Deutsch, and apparently went off with no problem. Deutsch or his producer asked Goldberg to stick around for another segment to participate in a panel discussion on cultural mores, and Goldberg agreed.
However, instead of debating cultural issues as the producers had explained the segment to Goldberg, it turned out that the show had stacked the panel with people who disliked Goldberg's book -- and ganged up on him to belittle it. Goldberg stuck it out for the segment, but was understandably irate at the end and told the booking producer, Marilyn Cutler, that it was one of the most unprofessional experiences of his life. Cutler told Goldberg that the executive producers had forced her to set Goldberg up for the attack.
An e-mail to the press office for The Big Idea prompted this response:
"Mr. Goldberg was invited on our program to discuss his new book. We asked him if he would be willing to stay and join a panel of print and online journalists to discuss the people and issues he raised in the book and he agreed. At certain points during the segment, Mr. Goldberg, the panelists and Donny did not always agree. We felt that it was a healthy and robust conversation.
"We treat all of guests, including Mr. Goldberg, with nothing but the utmost respect and courtesy. We encourage people to tune into CNBC tomorrow night at 10:30PM and watch for themselves."
Tune in tomorrow night to see for yourselves. It wouldn't be the first time that a CNBC talk show ambushed one of its guests. We'll see if this follows that earlier example provided by Chris Matthews.
UPDATE AND BUMP: I'm bumping this to Wednesday just to make sure it gets seen amidst the Roberts coverage. Also, I heard from Dave Johnston, who notes that Goldberg isn't the only recipient of the Deutsch double-cross:
The show's director originally contacted me on Monday this week. I was told that Deutsch would be talking about videogames, and they wanted someone from the gaming media to talk about a bunch of things. The subjects listed to me ran the gamut from "the future of videogames" to "online clans and community." I was told that the violence thing might come up, in light of the recent 25-to-Life exposure, to which my response was a dismissive "that's been done to death, it's boring." The director simply asked me if I would "just say that on air."
When I arrived at the studio, and after being caked in layers of makeup, I sat down in front of the camera and soon learned that the entire show was about violence. It kicked off with Donny holding up a copy of Computer Games magazine declaring that there wasn't a single game in there that wasn't violent, and they then immediately cut to scenes of CJ stamping on a girl until she bled over the pavement in San Andreas. I was introduced as pretty much the bad guy who thinks this doesn't have an effect on kids, and...well...things just deteriorated from there. I tried to discuss the ratings system, I tried to talk about how the majority of games are sold at Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy, and how they all take the ratings system very seriously...but this isn't what the show was supposed to be about. Donny had an agenda. "All games are violent" was his proclamation, and nothing was going to sway him. We weren't here to test a hypothesis. While this was happening, the director kept nagging me through the earpiece to "jump in and talk about what you're here to talk about." I was pissed. "That's not what the show appears to be about, darling."
As we cut to the first break in the live taping, more guests were being lined up including Columbine student Brooks Brown and his parents. This was looking like a full on ambush...so I got up and left. I'd been set up as an apologist for videogames, and with the obvious agenda it was clear that neither I, nor anything I represent was going to come out of it unscathed. Deutsch wasn't interested in discussing the efforts of the ESA or the ESRB, or the fact that the rating system has been commended by numerous organizations, he was simply interested in demonizing an entire segment of entertainment.
So I bailed, feeling just a tinge of smug self-satisfaction at being such a prissy media primadonna, but also absolutely furious about the way I'd been ambushed. The pre-show "prep" was incredibly misleading, and it was clear that I'd been set up. Before I left the studio I demanded to speak to the director so I could express myself to the fullest extent of the English language, but she wouldn't speak to me.
I think that the comupter-game industry should be answering some tough questions, but this kind of ambush television is, as Goldberg told the Deutsch producers, completely unprofessional and highly unethical. It certainly shows that The Big Idea has a history of this kind of Jerry Springer antics, and that those invited to participate in on-camera interviews on the CNBC show may want to reconsider.
UPDATE II: It's not on his website yet, but Fox announced this morning that Bill O'Reilly will have Bernard Goldberg on tonight to discuss what happened on the Deutsch show, which airs about 90 minutes afterwards. Some rumblings have it that Deutsch may pull the episode.Sphere It View blog reactions
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On Wednesday, I interviewed Bernard Goldberg, the author of 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37), for an upcoming article. He was fuming about being ambushed during his appearance on cable's Donny Deutsch Show, and... [Read More]
Tracked on July 23, 2005 1:47 PM
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