Confirmed: Anyone can get on local morning television

To cleanse the palate, somehow I missed this when it made the rounds online last month. (So did Mediaite.) The clip’s circulating again today because the parent company of one of the stations that had these two on, seemingly credulously, has now decided to double down on bad publicity by suing them for fraud.

That brings out the tort lawyer in me. When two dudes in Zubaz and handwritten t-shirts show up to the studio promising to karate-chop sticks and they get put on the air anyway, they’ve got themselves an airtight “assumption of risk” defense.

Atlanta-based Gray Television, which owns WEAU-TV in Eau Claire, Wisc., is suing The Found Footage Festival founders Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher — both from New York — for using fake names and materials to fraudulently convince WEAU to book their appearance on “Hello Wisconsin,” according to the complaint.

They “performed ridiculous bits and provided false information to WEAU viewers,” the complaint states…

Prueher said the anchors were good-natured about the prank, but WEAU-TV’s parent company, Gray Television, was irate.

“The anchor emailed us the following day saying, ‘well-played you guys.’ But I guess the parent company is embarrassed so I guess they want to sue out of embarrassment.”

So pleased was WEAU with the segment, according to Pickett, that the channel had the two shoot a promo for them afterwards.

Pity the poor anchors who had to suffer through this on air, not knowing how to react once it became obvious — very quickly, I assume — that it was a goof. Do you end the segment immediately? Play it straight and hope for the best? Call it out as a goof but then laugh along, knowing that your news channel has been stealth-commandeered by comedians? Tucker Carlson did a nice job handling an obvious prankster in a Fox segment back in January, but he came into that interview armed with evidence that his guest was a faker and was prepared for anything. The anchors here probably didn’t even meet “Chop” and “Steele” until 30 seconds before they went live. And once the light went on, it was too late.

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