By Kevin Price
ABC’s popular reality show, “What Would You Do?” (with John Quinones) took a jab this week at GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. This came just a couple of days after the network’s interview with Gingrich’s ex-wife, which included a claim that the former House Speaker wanted an “open marriage.” The “What Would You Do?” episode didn’t take a cheap shot at Gingrich’s personal life, but instead attempted, in this writer’s opinion, to embarrass the candidate when it comes to a policy that the candidate holds dear and seems to resonate well with conservative audiences.
If you have watched Speaker Gingrich for long, you know about his views regarding breaking the cycle of poverty and instilling an excellent work ethic in young people. He says things such as “we should shut down the public janitorial unions around the country that our busting the budgets of schools and replace them with students who would work after school to gain some money, experience, and the character to be a successful adult” (this is a paraphrase). Instead of being resistant to such a statement, many audiences give him standing ovations.
I believe Gingrich’s view was irritating to the predominantly liberal media and I think they were bewildered by the audience’s reaction. “Maybe if they saw the policy in action,” I believe they pondered, “they would understand the cruelty of Gingrich’s view.”
The way “What Would You Do” works is fairly simple. The show hires actors to behave in a certain manner in an attempt to get a response from bystanders. For example, on a recent show they hired adult and pre-teen actors to play parent/child in scenarios in which the adult would play drunk and try to get his or her adolescent child to drive them home. The response among bystanders was overwhelming. Rarely did people merely standby and watch them drive away. However, when they got to the “Gingrich thesis,” there was a decidedly different response.
In the scenario they created to prove the error of Gingrich’s philosophy (and, by the way, they referred to the former Speaker's view when setting the stage of the segment), they could not merely have a young person working; he had to be in, what would be described as an abusive scenario. The adult actor that worked with the child as his manager in a grocery store would berate the child, condemning the boy’s “laziness” or “whining” or other inadequacy as a worker. To make matters worse he would say that the child was “stealing from the company by making $5 an hour” (well below the current minimum wage). Ironically (and I am sure to ABC’s surprise), very few people said anything at all and when one finally did, it was not even because the child was “under aged,” but because of the way the adult spoke to the child. There was no problem that these young people were working, but they did not want to see them mistreated. I am sure they would not want to see anyone mistreated!
I was surprised that ABC even ran this segment, because it proved Gingrich’s thesis more than undermined it. Americans are tired of multi-generational entitlement and they want young people to have healthy attitudes about work, and that is best obtained by starting to work as young people. The only one who should be embarrassed by this segment is ABC itself.
Syndicated columnist whose articles appear on a variety of media outlets.
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