I just had to post this. Who would have ever thought a Filipino variety program host would have anything in common with an American news network host?
Well, it happened.
On a special Tuesday episode of Fox News’ The Kelly File airing at midnight ET, host Megyn Kelly spoke with Concerned Veterans for America CEO, veteran and Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth about the video of ISIS terrorists beheading American journalist James Foley. But as the segment began, live video showing clashes between protesters and police in Ferguson, Missouri popped up on screen.
It took 16 seconds for Megyn Kelly, after allowing Pete Hegseth to finish his sentence, to call attention to the incredible and inappropriate disconnect between the images being broadcast and the discussion they were having.
Megyn Kelly: “I realize something’s happening in Ferguson, but we’re talking about something important here, so can you at least split-screen the video?”
The full screen live feed of Ferguson disappeared before returning after a few seconds as a split screen with Megyn Kelly which itself was removed after only a few seconds as well.
I didn’t watch this segment live, but was watching the replay at 12:54am PT. And as soon as the video of Ferguson popped up, I was shocked. Since I was watching the replay, I wasn’t sure if the video was a live feed or producers had inserted the wrong clips. But even before Megyn Kelly confirmed it was indeed a live shot, I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s really awkward and actually inappropriate.”
Not only did it diminish both issues (ISIS and the tensions in Ferguson), but it actually presented unnecessary connections and/or connotations to the violent factions in Ferguson with the evil ISIS terrorists. Awkward and almost disrespectful juxtapositions for both sad issues.
On one hand, it is understandable (maybe) for Fox News to want to put live video on air, especially if this was the first confrontation of the night in Ferguson. That is both in a breaking news sense as well as ratings sense since CNN topped the usually #1 Fox News during Monday’s equally tense live coverage.
But really, that is no excuse to not have the simple foresight to realize that throwing up live video of the already tense situation in Ferguson during a segment discussing the murder of an American by a terrorist group would be the wrong thing to do. They could have just as easily started the segment from commercial with the live video before starting the discussion about the murdered journalist.
Almost immediately for me, it reminded me of a very similar situation in 2009, but from across the Pacific.
The situation: August 3rd. Former Philippine president Corazon Aquino had just died and her coffin was being transferred from La Salle Greenhills to the Manila Cathedral.
Network ABS-CBN had been airing continuous coverage of Aquino’s death, including showing live video of the processions through the streets of Metro Manila.
The network, however, decided to move forward with a live airing of its popular and at the time top-rated noontime show Wowowee. That was despite director Johnny Manahan and host Willie Revillame proposing to pre-empt the show, tape that day’s episode (as a courtesy to the audience members in attendance who were already in their seats in the studio) to be aired the next day.
Network higher-ups approved the plan to tape the episode and Wowowee began production for the day, only to then later get the call from ABS-CBN to go live instead. ABS-CBN went ahead and aired the already taped portions of the program while the Wowowee crew waited to go live.
According to Manahan in an interview with Philippine Entertainment Portal, as the taped portion aired, Willie Revillame noticed that airing next to the taped Wowowee portions of the raucous studio audience dancing to the song “Giling Giling” was a split-screen with live video of the Aquino procession arriving at Manila Cathedral.
Revillame called ABS-CBN head of TV production Linggit Tan (who was at the studio and who they had originally made the pre-emption proposal to) to point out the obviously inappropriate juxtaposition. The split screen was removed, only to be re-inserted later once the show went live.
That’s when one of Willie Revillame’s most infamous on-air outbursts happened:
And while that outburst resulted in Revillame going on another unplanned leave and gave half the Filipino audience (who never liked Willie Revillame to begin with) ammunition to hurl insults and pass judgment, the sentiment he expressed so bluntly was not wrong.
Johnny Manahan, who is not only a director, but a huge part of the ABS-CBN conglomerate, explained the situation and supported Willie Revillame’s comments, sentiment and chain of events that led up to the outburst.
Everyone at Wowowee knew airing a happy variety show side-by-side with the solemn funeral procession of a former President was absolutely inappropriate and disrespectful. And before that, Revillame, Manahan and the show already offered to be pre-empted for the day to allow full coverage of the events.
But it was the higher-ups at ABS-CBN who made the foolish stupid decision to juxtapose the two incredibly contrasting images and in turn themselves disrespect the memory of a President who is highly regarded and beloved, especially by people at that very network.
Willie Revillame and Megyn Kelly present an interesting, and at the same time baffling lesson in common sense, especially for seasoned and experienced people working in television.
Yes, anything can happen on live television. But the decisions made by the control room at Fox News’ The Kelly File and master control at ABS-CBN should have been easy decisions to make. That is, it should have been easy and expected for them to make the opposite decision of what they ultimately ended up doing.
While the Kelly File gaffe will never have the kind of impact the ABS-CBN/Wowowee idiocy produced, they do serve as fascinating and visual reminders of the need for common sense in our everyday lives. And most especially on live television.