Thursday, November 23, 2006


I saw Borat a while back. I really enjoyed it. It was really funny. But even funnier is all these people who are suing Sascha Baron Cohen claiming they were duped into appearing in the film even though they signed a release and, in most cases, were paid. One woman--the one who ran the etiquette school--has asked the California Attorney General to investigate the production company claiming that she signed the agreement under false pretenses because it was supposed to be a "documentary."

All this leads me to thinking about Ed Bradley. I was a great admirer of Ed Bradley's. He was a man of dignity, of intelligence, and of great character. He was a hero of journalism and of civil rights, and he was, from all appearances, a really nice guy.

But in the end, how was he different from Sascha Baron Cohen? How was what Ed Bradley did different? Really? They both interviewed people with the motive of getting to the truth behind their public persona. Sascha's interviews are just funnier. The difference is *not* that Borat is a persona because Ed Bradley the interviewer was also a persona. The hour long retrospective on Bradley's life proved that 60 Minutes ran proved that. The staid and serious interviewer was part of Ed Bradley, but off camera he was a much less staid and dignified sort. He would get up on stage (under the stage name "Teddy") and sing very poorly with Jimmy Buffet's band. You got the impression from the documentary that his best friend was Hunter S. Thompson. Not what most people who only knew Bradley from sixty minutes would expect.

Like Cohen, Bradley had many different personas. But which one was the "real" Ed Bradley? The free spirited joker who sang bad jazz and hung with Dr. Gonzo, or the staid and dignified reporter on 60 minutes? Of course the answer is both and neither. So what is the difference between that and what Cohen does?

Nothing. Not really. If these stupid lawsuits are successful, or if the the California AG actually brings some sort of charges against Cohen, it will be dangerous for any journalist.

The only real difference is that these idiots who are now suing signed a release and got paid.


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