ABC's Contrived 'What Would You Do?' Brings Tears To John Quiñones's Eyes

Liberal ABC reporter John Quiñones admitted in an interview with Katie Couric on Friday that his What Would You Do? program often has him and his crew “in tears” as they set up ludicrous hidden-camera scenarios to see how everyday Americans would react.

Given the premise of the program, one has to wonder if the tears are of joy or of sheer disappointment that most folks are basically decent, upstanding citizens who stand up against bullying and intolerance. [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

When Couric asked Quiñones whether it is hard for him “not to intervene earlier,” in these actor ad-libbed scenarios, Quiñones prided himself on his professional detachment. “I'm a reporter first, like you, Katie,” he insisted.

But the idea that a show that relies on actors and scripts to create fake situations to engender specific reactions in random passerby is journalism is laughable. Not to mention the host’s proclamation that “we're there not to make judgments but to observe,” when the entire objective of the show seems to be catching Americans in the worst possible light.

Couric ended the interview by asking Quiñones what he “learned about humanity” through his work on the show, to which he replied, “you can't judge someone by their appearance.” That’s really enlightening stuff, there, John.

The relevant transcript appears below:

ABC
Katie
May 30, 2014
3:10 p.m. Eastern
30 seconds

KATIE COURIC: Is it hard for you to be a fly in the wall and not intervene earlier, just watch the things unfold?

JOHN QUINONES: It is. Sometimes we're all in tears, you look around the back of the control room and we're all in tears. But I'm a reporter first, like you, Katie. I've done this for 30 years, I've been a journalist. We're there not to make judgments but to observe, and to take in what we're witnessing. We'll give them a chance when I come out to explain why didn't you get involved or why did you. What drove you. But I'm not there to judge. So yes, it's a little hard as a human being but as a professional journalist, I keep my distance.

3:20 p.m.
54 seconds

COURIC: And when all is said and done, what have you learned about humanity in the course of doing this?

QUINONES: I think I've learned that you can't judge someone by their appearance. And we do that all the time. But just when we think someone walks in the door and it's a big biker dude with a shaved head, he's gonna be the racist. He's a teddy bear. And the little old lady with the pretty flower in her hair, she's the meanest person around. And it also shows me that despite the progress we've made with issues like race in this country, there's a lot of work to be done. We got to keep the conversation going and it's not just about conversation. It's about who we surround ourselves with as human beings. Is it an integrated community that we live in, do we invite people who are different than us into our homes, break bread with them. If we do that, it enriches us as a people and it enriches us as country.

COURIC: And it's not about just race, it's about religious preference, or sexual orientation, and all these different things where we need to accept each other's differences.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.