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Bluff The Listener

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Alonzo Bodden, Amy Dickinson and Joel Kim Booster. And here again is your host from a room in his house filled with "Stargate SG-1" memorabilia, Peter Sagal.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

JUNE SEPTEMBER APRIL: Hello.

SAGAL: Hello. Who's this?

APRIL: This is June September April living in beautiful Redding, Conn.

SAGAL: Your name is June September April?

APRIL: Yes, that's absolutely right.

SAGAL: And is that your real name?

APRIL: Why would I want something else? Strange, is that not?

SAGAL: I see your point. Well, June, welcome to our show. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's June's topic?

KURTIS: Fake news.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: There's a reason we trust the news less than we used to, and it's not just because Anderson Cooper made certain promises he has not kept. You know what I'm talking about, silver fox. This week, we heard the story of the news doing us wrong in a whole new way. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAIT-er of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

APRIL: I am always ready to play.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Joel Kim Booster.

JOEL KIM BOOSTER: We've all heard it before - ask and you shall receive. Sure, that seems sensible enough. But unfortunately, for two readers of The Charlotte Observer, whoever came up with that idiom should have been more specific. The kerfuffle centered around the paper's longstanding advice column, Ask Aunt Alice (ph). But after 30 years of no complaints, Alice's record was blighted on April 27 by a careless features editor who inadvertently swapped advice for two unlucky letter writers.

The first, only identified by her pseudonym, desperately seeking shelter, had written in about a problem she had encountered with a freshly adopted shelter dog. The dog had been causing trouble at home, chewing up furniture, scaring their neighbors' children and otherwise terrorizing the letter writer's family. What was the moral thing to do? According to Aunt Alice, the only thing that could be done was to put on a fresh face of makeup, get a blow-out and try to remember what made her sexy to him in the first place.

AMY DICKINSON: (Laughter).

BOOSTER: Confused readers might question why Aunt Alice suggested dressing up for a troubled dog. But this is, of course, because this response was meant for the second letter writer of the week, who was writing about what to do about a husband with a wandering eye. To this reader, Aunt Alice suggested daily treats as a reward for good behavior or a swift visit back to a shelter, even if the offender was eventually put to sleep for good.

The goof only appeared in the physical copies of the paper, and the paper swiftly apologized in the correction the following morning. But one hopes the damage was done. Perhaps the wife with the cheating husband really should have left her husband. And who knows? Maybe a nice dress once in a while really would have improved the dog's behavior.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Aunt Alice screws up her advice for a dog and a marriage. Your next story of a news no-no comes from Amy Dickinson, an actual advice columnist.

DICKINSON: This is a tough time for newspapers. I mean, leaving your house to pick up something of an unknown origin which has been handled by unseen hands, and then to carry that thing into the house and pass it around to family members. But still, newspapers are trying - trying to win over younger readers.

One staple is the spot the difference feature - you know, two photographs or drawings that contain tiny differences, and the reader has to spot them. It's really a throwback to a simpler time when people didn't go out much. Families spent a lot of time together playing games and baking sourdough bread - a time exactly like this time, come to think of it.

So pity the Baltimore Sun. From Fells Point to Federal Hill, Riverside and Inner Harbor, readers picked up last Sunday's paper and could not spot the difference in the spot the difference feature. To the naked eye, the two pictures of a boy brushing his teeth looked exactly the same because they were exactly the same.

BOOSTER: (Laughter).

DICKINSON: Spot the difference had one job, and much like the strategic national stockpile, it did not deliver. This week, the Baltimore Sun had to notify readers - correction, the images in the spot the difference feature in the Sunday editions were mistakenly the same image and not, in fact, different. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

SAGAL: A spot the difference photo game with two identical photos. Your last story of a media mess-up comes from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: The Ames Iowa Register received a simple order from the regional fried chicken place Cluck's Chicken - a simple ad with a promo coupon for 12 chicken nuggets for $2 for the first week of spring - or, as they like to call them, Cluck's nuggets. Somebody didn't proofread the work, so the Register printed 60,000 coupons offering 120 nuggets for $2, and hungry Iowans lined up in front of the store before it even opened.

Bob Reed (ph), the manager, knew he had to honor the coupons, but he also knew he didn't have enough chicken to sell 120 nuggets for $2 and stay in business. Bobby (ph), one of the fry cooks, had a simple idea - make the nuggets smaller. Bobby said he could run chicken through the meat grinder and get long, small, round strips of chicken similar to straws, then cut those into small bits and fry them. Bobby showed how he could get as many as 200 of the tiny morsels out of a single chicken breast.

And so was born the chicken dot - one-quarter-inch bites of delicious, fresh chicken. And 120 of them for $2 was not only an attractive price - it was actually profitable. The chicken dots were a huge hit. Manager Bob Reed is now planning to expand to multiple locations, and Bobby the fry cook is now Cluck's chef de cuisine. No word on the fate of the coupon man over at the Ames Register.

SAGAL: All right.

DICKINSON: I want a chicken dot so bad right now.

BOOSTER: (Laughter).

DICKINSON: I mean, that actually sounded really good.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So here are your choices, June. From Joel Kim Booster, the story of how an advice columnist messed up her advice for a dog and a troubled marriage; from Amy Dickinson, how the Baltimore Sun had to apologize for printing a spot the difference photo game with two identical photos, leading to hours of frustration; or, from Alonzo Bodden, how a misprint in a coupon led to the invention of the chicken dot in Iowa. Which of these is the real story of the media mistake?

APRIL: All right. I'm inclined to go with B.

SAGAL: Well, your choice, then, is Amy's story about the two identical photos with no difference at all. To bring you the real answer, we spoke to someone familiar with the true story.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NATHAN RUIZ: It says that there are 10 differences in this cartoon. Two minutes in, I'm, like, there aren't a whole lot of differences in these cartoons. And if there are, then, like, someone did a really good job of hiding them.

SAGAL: That was Nathan Ruiz, a reporter for The Baltimore Sun - the very paper who tweeted out the correction to the photo challenge.

APRIL: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Congratulations. You earned a point for Amy Dickinson. You've won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Thank you so much for playing, June.

APRIL: Thank you. It's a pleasure. Bye-bye.

DICKINSON: Bye, June.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAWRENCE WELK'S "THE CHICKEN DANCE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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