On Thursday, February 27, I received an email that said: “I'm a producer at the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. We're working on a segment about fracking & I wanted to reach out to see if you'd be interested in participating. I read your column in Town Hall a few months ago & it's just what we're looking for—we'd like to have someone dispel a lot of the myths & untruths about fracking.” I responded that, yes, I was interested. After doing my research, I agreed to participate.
On March 6, I flew to New York City for a taping on March 7. I knew that the Daily Show is a comedy show masquerading as a news program. My peers told me horror stories of how the show had treated others whose views didn’t mesh with those of Jon Stewart—not that the guests were personally abused, but that the final product didn’t represent what was really said during the taping. I weighed the pro and cons and decided to take the risk. I figured that no matter how good I might be, I was unlikely to change the opinions of the young audience that watches the Daily Show and thinks it is real news. Additionally, my audience doesn’t generally watch it—and if they do, they’ll know my comments were heavily edited, as my views are well known. What really pushed me to accept the invitation was the fact that the following week, March 10-13, I was scheduled to be in Southern California speaking on college campuses and my Daily Show taping would enhance my “street-cred” with the potential audiences.
I knew I was not the first person to whom they had reached out. Others had turned them down. If I said “no,” they’d continue down some list until they found someone who’d say yes. I figured it might as well be me because I know that I know my topic. I know I will represent it accurately. The next person on the list might not be as well informed.
I expected that they’d try to spring something on me and make me look foolish. Based on the pre-taping interviews, I felt that I had a sense of where the interview would go. They had a few questions about which I was unsure. I sent an email to the several thousand people on my enewsletter list asking for input on specific questions. Many sent me helpful information that I read on the plane on the way to New York. I talked to industry experts. I studied up as if I was heading in for a final exam. I wanted to be sure they couldn’t trip me up.