The Daily Show is coming under fire from some Washington Redskins fans after the show allegedly misled the participants about a segment relating to the team’s controversial name. At one point, the show surprised the participants with a large number of American Indians opposing the name, who reportedly threatened the panel to the point where one woman called the police.
The Washington Post reports that four fans agreed to take part in the not-yet-aired segment, aware that they would likely be the butt of some jokes. Nonetheless, the participants reached an understanding with The Daily Show’s producers about the nature of the sketch.
“They told us they were going to have a fan panel, and, at some other time, they were going to do a panel with Native Americans,” fan Brian Dortch, a Virginia home-repairman, told the Post. “So I said back, ‘Just to clarify, specifically, we’re not doing a cross-panel discussion right?’ The producer said, ‘Yeah, right. That would be too serious for Comedy Central.’”
In an e-mail to another fan, a producer indicated that there would be one interview with fans, and another with American Indians opposed to the name.
After three hours of interviews, Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones was about to wrap up the interview when a group of American Indians — including a comedy troupe called the 1491s and Amanda Blackhorse, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit to end the strip the team’s trademark — surprised the fans. One of the troupe’s members, who was flown in to Washington, D.C,. from Phoenix, said producers told them this was the plan all along.
Blackhorse and the 1491s allegedly aggressively confronted the four fans about their support for keeping the name, which the fans said they believed “honored Native Americans.” Blackhorse said she personally compared the fans to alcoholics for being in denial about the name; the fans also recalled being told they were “psychologically damaging Native American children.” The fans said they were also cut off when they attempted to respond
The situation escalated to the point where Kelli O’Dell, a former teacher from Virginia, said she was driven to tears by the show’s deception and the ambushers’ behavior.
“It was disingenuous,” she said. “The Native Americans accused me of things that were so wrong. I felt in danger. I didn’t consent to that. I am going to be defamed.”
O’Dell went on to call the police, but was told The Daily Show had committed no crime.
The segment is yet to air on the Comedy Central show, and the 1491s apparently also visited a Redskins tailgate as part of the sketch.