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.