Parodies of political attack ads are a staple on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. But last week, Comedy Central’s faux newscast showcased a new variation: the local weather-team attack ad.
The ad was not a Daily Show production but a perhaps overzealous sweeps-period promo from NBC affiliate WTWO Terre Haute, Ind., criticizing the weather coverage on its rival, CBS affiliate WTHI.
"Some stations say they have the most reliable weather coverage," the promo’s narrator intones. "But let’s review the facts." The ad goes on to tout the 45-plus years of combined experience of the WTWO weather team and belittle the WTHI team’s mere 30 years.
The ad also mocks the inadequacy of WTHI’s Doppler radar, which is located in downtown Terre Haute, thus leaving thousands of residents vulnerable within a radar "dead zone." At www.dopplerdeadzone.com, WTWO boasts that its own Doppler system is located safely in a cornfield. ("My god," said Stewart. "If you live in Terre Haute, you have to look out your window.")
Turns out the promo got on Stewart’s radar after a staffer on Daily spinoff The Colbert Report passed it along to Daily Show writers.
But WTWO management was perplexed to see it get such national play. "This was a short, silly segment," says General Manager Duane Lammers. "It is just a normal part of our doing business."
The next day, the Terre Haute Tribune-Star quoted Lammers saying that Stewart "must have been pretty hard up for material … I didn’t quite understand the point."
Stewart countered with an "apology" that dinged the station again over the ads and knocked Lammers’ decision last January not to air controversial NBC series Book of Daniel. Over at WTHI, General Manager Todd Weber was amused, both by the Stewart bit and by the ads. And why not: WTHI is the market’s top-rated news station.
Weber declined a Daily Show request for a follow-up interview, however. "We are going to focus on what we do: the news," he says.