ABC's Prank 'News' Show Trolls for Anti-Gay Bias in New York

What Would You Do, ABC's undercover news program, last week continued its habit of featuring actors pretending to be obnoxious Americans. The John Quinones-hosted program searches for secret bigotry, almost always aimed at liberal causes. On January 27th, the show tried to create scenarios under which restaurant patrons would yell at a gay man proposing to his boyfriend.

Quinones, the narrator/interrogator, explained, "It's a beautiful day, and love is in the air. Peter is an actor plays a gay man who's finally ready and now legally able to tie the knot with his longtime partner."  Showing no objectivity about the issue of gay marriage, Quinones lectured, "Vince is also an actor, seated at a nearby table. He's playing the role of a man who just can't keep his homophobia to himself."

As the one actor pretended to propose to the other, "Vince August," said things like, "It's not a real marriage...I'm not gonna applaud society falling apart." After one of the patrons, not aware he's being recorded, agreed with "Vince," Quinones exclaimed in horror, "Did he just say what we think he said?"

"That's right. He agrees with Vince," the journalist marveled. 

Another patron screamed at ABC's caricature of a conservative: "Get the [bleeped] out! Piece of [bleep]! I'm so mad." Quinones offered no moral chiding this time.

Talking to this woman later, the host simply wondered, "What were you going to do?" "Edith" responded, "I really was going to get up and slap the hat off his head like I said to him. I really was going to do that." Quinones questioned, "You don't tolerate that?"

Note the contrast. The correspondent criticized what he perceived as homophobia, but has no comment for a woman who was about to get violent.

At the conclusion of the segment, Quinones explained, "At the end of the day, only one of 15 people we interviewed sided with our instigator." He admitted that "the overwhelming majority" did not support the screaming, anti-gay man. So, what was the point of the segment, exactly?

On the March 4, 2011 What Would You Do, Quinones featured fake gay soldiers who were being physically expressive in a New Jersey diner. (Homosexual issues are a theme for this program.)

On February 3, 2011, the show set up a sting in Arizona to find supposed racism against Arizona's illegal immigration law.

On January 3, 2009, Quinones had fake, "ugly Americans" go to France to be obnoxious.    

Sensing a pattern? On the What Would You Do website, viewers can submit their own undercover scenarios. How about one featuring a fake reporter making liberal, sneering comments to real journalists?

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org