Fox News Prankster Would 'Absolutely' Have Pulled the Same Joke With CNN, MSNBC
Film student Max Rice made waves on Monday when he got the better of Fox News, appearing on the morning program Fox & Friends as a supposed Mitt Romney supporter who formerly had voted for Obama.
The catch: He wasn’t any of those things.
When cameras began rolling for his interview with Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson, Rice revealed the reason he planned on voting for Romney was not what the producers of the show had anticipated.
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Asked why he’s now a supporter of the Romney campaign, Rice said: “It’s actually a funny story. I lost a basketball game to a friend of mine.”
Producers ultimately cut the interview short after a few more quips from Rice, with Carlson explaining, “We’re gonna give Max another chance maybe when he’s ready to do the interview.”
Yes, Rice will be voting for Romney in November -- that bit of his story was true -- but that doesn’t necessarily make him a GOP supporter. The 20-year-old Columbia College Chicago student tells The Hollywood Reporter that he did lose a bet to his friend.
“I live in Illinois, so it doesn’t matter,” says Rice of casting his ballot, insisting that Obama will take his state regardless. “I told my friend: ‘Yeah, congrats. You got one vote for Romney. He’s gonna get three in Illinois.’”
Rice, who transferred from the University of Texas this past summer, says he wasn’t making a political statement on Fox News. After being put in touch with producers by a friend of a friend, Rice claims the show made very little effort to look into his background before placing him on the air.
“I’m for journalistic integrity -- integrity and truth,” he says. “Fox doesn’t practice that, and it’s had such a negative impact on society. I had the opportunity to shine a light on that, so good.”
Although he admits that he was “especially happy” to fool Fox & Friends, he would have “absolutely” pulled the same prank on cable news’ more left-leaning networks, including CNN and MSNBC.
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“I would have done the same thing, but it was almost divine that it turned out to not only be Fox but Fox & Friends,” he says. “I didn’t even seek it out, but if I were to have sought it out, I probably would have sought out Fox & Friends. It was just crazy to me.”
Rice doesn’t think the organization needs an employee overhaul. He hopes that his appearance beefs up the level of fact-checking and journalistic responsibility across various networks.
“I hope this is the first domino,” he says. “I hope they step up their game now and realize that we the people aren’t as dumb as they make us out to be.”
He adds: “I was so secretly nervous because it wouldn’t take too much effort for them to find out I was a fraud. It wouldn’t have taken too much research, which is why I think it’s such a sham that it happened.”
Indeed, a Google search of Rice’s name results in a high school commencement speech video, circa 2010 – thereby making his story of being a recent college graduate essentially invalid. A click on the video pulls up related content, including a clip of Rice performing a raunchy stand-up act in Austin.
Since his appearance, Rice says producers have phoned him two times, but he has not answered. They have not e-mailed him.
Rice’s friend-of-a-friend, who has close ties to the network, texted him to say, “I’m in deep s---.”
As for the prankster, aside from a flood of interview requests and offers to appear in friends’ YouTube videos, he will not be making any moves into the media just yet. “I’m not ready for primetime. There’s some truth to that,” jokes Rice, referring to Carlson’s on-camera comment.
“I’m in school. I have to practice, I have to write every day,” he explains, telling THR that he hopes to one day be a writer. “I don't understand editing software. I can’t be a director if I don’t know how to use Final Cut. I’ve never worked with film, either. I want to work with film, not digital. My name’s out there. I’ll tell y'all when I’m ready.”
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@thr.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci