Wonder if you would do me a favor and consider the info below for this Sunday's "Inside Sources."
Tuesday night, the 8PM (EST) CBS Radio news opened with the big John Kerry joke story.
The anchor called Kerry's joke one "that fell flat." In comedian circles, that's a joke that the audience didn't get or they got but it didn't work.
I.E. The audience didn't think it was funny.
CBS then played the now infamous clip of Kerry telling his joke. Not even a titter from his audience of collegians, who should be smart enough to get a joke, even ones botched by a U.S. Senator (one would hope that politicians would unlearn "always open with a joke").
The CBS anchor was right. It fell flat...as a failed presidential pancake.
And that's how I would have left it...if I hadn't heard the actual student reaction to Kerry's flat material on Randi Rhodes show.
The audience had laughed. They got the joke. It had, in fact, worked.
The CBS News that continues to be the Right WIng's target as the Network of Rather, had cut the audience's reaction to Kerry's clumsy joke. If they had included his audience's positive reaction, the "flat" reference wouldn't have worked and the continued demonization of Kerry's comments would have been more difficult to sell.
Cutting the laughter was almost as much as a sin as adding canned laughter to a joke that didn't work on "Two And A Half Men." You add the laughter to make the audience think the joke was funny, because otherwise, based on the content of the joke alone, you'd never know.
CBS News had (cut and) spun the "joke" almost as much as the Right Wing Noise Machine and President Bush had spun the target of Kerry's quip, because they all knew that in the laughter lay the truth of Kerry's intent.
If Kerry's comment was meant as a dig against the troops, as Karl Rove would like us to believe, why did he get the audience reaction he did?
In the Associated Press version of the story, Jennifer Loven wrote, "... Kerry told a group of California students on Monday that those unable to navigate the country's education system "get stuck in Iraq."
He never said such a thing. Let's go to the tape.
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
And yet, despite CBS's seeming intent, the audience laughed.
If it were meant as a dig against the troops, why did the students laugh? Even if they they wanted to undermine the troops, they might applaud. But laugh? O'Reilly would say, while pitching his latest book, it was because those campus SPs were Bush Haters. Which is exactly the point. In the context of Kerry's comments, his "joke" was a dig at Bush, not the troops.
But left in context, there is no story, except for the RNC trying to drown out the administration's failures in Iraq.
So, Howard, here's another question for your panel.
I realize time is precious and soundbites are just that. But when the soundbite distorts the truth of the news, is that news, or is it just a moment with Sean Hannity?
Then again, you might just want to have me on your panel and I can tell you what I think.
Less Than Credible Political Columnist, But Award-Winning TV Comedy Writer