Every day, cable TV producers book guest after guest to appear on TV. How do you become one of those people? One way, perhaps the most accessible to the typical American, is something really, really bad has to happen to you. Like your wife tries to kill you or you have an illness that causes you to sneeze 16 times per minute (both instances made for terrific television). Another way, is to become a talking head who can quip about the political talking points of the day. It's way easier than being a witness to a national tragedy, but then again, anyone can do it. But during a short period of election season, a magical window opens up where both the typical American and the shout-y pundit type overlaps. The only wrinkle: this common American has to fit a specific voter demographic that fits the producer's talking points: a black Romney supporter, a small business owner who's OK with Obama taking credit with building her business, whatever a "security mom" is. And if you don't fit the mold, you're not invited on air. Unless you happen to lie about your identity which is exactly what 20-year-old Max Rice did in order to secure his invitation to Fox & Friends on Monday morning. He told Talking Points Memo's Tom Kludt exactly how he duped their producers.
But before that, here's the clip of him being introduced by host Gretchen Carlson as a jobless, recently-graduated former Obama supporter who's now leaning toward Romney.
It was not the best prank. By far. "Hello, Miss USA" he says in his greeting. Carlson informed him she had, in fact, been voted "Miss America," a distinction everyone knows she takes very seriously. From there, he just sort of sloppily goofs off on camera. But it's also clear the little twerp had a blast in the national spot light.
So how did he do it. As he told Kludt he employed a few tried and true tricks of media networking.
1. The "friend of a friend" technique: Rice is a film student at Columbia College in Chicago and a mutual friend of a Fox producer let him know they were on the hunt for young people who are supporting Romney because they can't get jobs.
2. Always give the answer they want: “When I picked up the phone, my ears perked up at the national TV part. I was like, ‘Fuck yeah, I graduated college.’ And they should have known I hadn’t graduated.”
3. Don't expect any fact-checking: Had anyone at Fox taken the time to Google his name, they might have come across his graduation speech on YouTube, which was in 2010, making him an unlikely college graduate two years later. "Rice said there was little in the way of screening done by Fox in advance of his interview, save for a long e-mail he received last week."
4. Technicalities are for suckers: The other requirement on the cable booking checklist was that he had to have voted for Obama in 2008. Rice, 20, was too young to vote in that election. “That’s why I said I supported Obama, I didn’t say vote,” he said.
(We would also note that whoever was drawing up those booking requirements was setting up a young producer for failure: in the last two years, or recent in our book, 3.5 million people graduated with bachelor's degrees. However, about 25 percent of students enrolled in colleges are over 30 years old, making them not young for these purposes, so that drops the prospective pool to 2.6 million. In 2008, only 49 percent of people aged 18 to 24 voted, so meeting the "voted in 2008" requirement drops it down to 1.3 million. And while Obama won the youth vote handily in 2008, John McCain got about a third of the 18-29 vote. So the total pool of potential guests — the entire universe of young people who voted for Obama in 2008 and recently graduated from college — is actually somewhere closer to 850,000 souls. And that's even before we start looking for people who are planning to switch to Romney. That poor Fox News producer never had a chance.)
As for his prank performance, it wasn't too bad for a 20-year-old. Still, not quite Yes Men material:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.