Monday, July 6, 2015

The Daily Show

I have received several comments regarding my recent appearance on The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

I would like to reiterate here that The Daily Show is SATIRE.  While there are, of course, grains of truth in satire, it is meant to be funny.  I knew going into it that I was on the “wrong side” of this issue.  And while I understand why the native Alaskans want the mountain’s name to be changed back to Denali, it should not surprise anyone that the curator in charge of McKinley’s legacy would speak in favor of keeping the name of her President on the mountain.

Having said that, it is not up to the museum to decide.  It is a matter for Congress to debate.  No one on our staff has been asked by our representative to contribute to this discussion.   We don’t have any lobbying influence one way or the other.  One person I have corresponded with said he “wishes I would have said that.”  I did say that.  It was edited out.

The crew was here taping for 2 hours, and they aired approximately 45 seconds of my interview in a 5 minute segment.  Television is all about editing.  And honestly, I thought the editing was very kind to me, given the nature of the segment.  

Some have suggested that I didn’t paint my president in a favorable light.  Again, I made many statements about McKinley’s contributions to our nation’s history, but those comments did not fit with the goals of the segment, so they were not used.  

You would be hard pressed to find a historian who ranks McKinley among the best presidents.  It would be harder still to find someone who thinks he was among the worst.  Sadly, that does translate to average, or, as Jordan Klepper said, mediocre.  McKinley was a great man with many positive qualities.  He is a member of an exclusive “club” of assassinated presidents.  But when ranked among the list of American presidents, he does fall somewhere in the middle.

The staff of The Daily Show was very professional and a lot of fun to work with.  They came here with no less than 50 questions to ask me on camera.  They were extremely well informed, and I was impressed.  I very much enjoyed bantering back and forth with Jordan!  It was exactly my kind of humor.

While I expected a degree of backlash about the naming of the mountain, I am truly surprised at the attacks on my intelligence, my character, and my career.  Anyone who knows me can tell you that I have poured my heart and soul into what I do for nearly 14 years as Curator of the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum.  When a producer from The Daily Show called me, I was thrilled to even be on their radar screen.  I went into the experience with an open mind, and I wish those who have taken the time to send me nasty emails would do the same.


Henry said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective. I enjoy the show very much. But it's a shame people can't see the satire and editing for what it is. I enjoyed the segment, which was basically the same approach they have taken to topics like this on many occasions. However, I was feeling kind of bad for you at times because I knew how the perception might be construed. Glad to see you are taking it all in stride.

Megan said...

I appreciate that TDS is satire, and that the segments are heavily edited.

I also appreciate that you feel not only a professional commitment to preserving President McKinley's legacy, but a personal commitment to it as well. We should all feel so deeply invested in our work.

However, at the end of the day, you made comments that clearly indicate that you are on the wrong side of what is fair and right on this issue. These comments were not created by slick editing, they were your own words and they reflect an opinion that (as you indicate in this post) you continue to hold.

This debate is an opportunity for you (and the people of Ohio) to exhibit grace, to step aside and say that there are better and more authentic ways to commemorate President McKinley's legacy than with disputed naming-rights on a mountain in a state he never visited. Instead, you (and the legislators who represent you) have missed that opportunity.

McKinley is fresh in my mind now, but not as "a president who was assassinated" or "the president from Canton, Ohio", but as "the president whose name people from Ohio are willing to be needlessly unkind to others over". That's rather a shame.

Stark Raving said...

Kim, you did a great job! Your segment of the story was the best part. I'm sure President McKinley is delighted with your defense of his Presidency and his namesake mountain.

Plus--you were on THE DAILY SHOW! How cool is that! Well done.

Helen said...

I thought you were great. In fact, I'm going to watch it again.

Alaskans have called it Denali for as long as I can remember (not very); it's mainly Outsiders who still think of it as Mt McKinley.

Good luck with those critics.

Anonymous said...

I agree that you exhibited good humor in your interview on TDS, and of course the show is meant to inform using satire as the context. Having lived in Arizona for many years, I have seen segments on TDS that highlight issues in a satirical way. One of the reasons satire is funny, is because the underlying argument can be so silly and irrational, that it is easy to make fun of the context. This seems true in the case of the Denali mountain renaming as well. However, It is entirely unacceptable that anyone would question your abilities, professional credibility, or attack you personally because of this segment. I applaud your professional and restrained comments here. We can have differences of opinion without unnecessary and ineffective personal attacks. PS, I thought you looked great in your interview.