Aasif Mandvi and the Daily Show have come and gone from Idaho, bringing a few laughs, making the JR Simplot Company mad and linking the two headed fish to Idaho.
Mandvi, a fine comedic actor, made it clear he was doing fake news as he keeps alive several myths about the science surrounding the selenium problem in eastern Idaho and the phosphate industry. The Idaho Statesman is running my story Sunday that will examine the issue in detail but let me clear up a few things.
When Greater Yellowstone Coalition Idaho Director Marv Hoyt holds up a picture of a two-headed brown trout to begin the show he says: “The fish are suffering massive deformities, deformities you just don’t see in nature.”
He is only partially right. The two-headed brown trout fry was the progeny of fish taken from two creeks below Simplot’s Smokey Canyon Mine and placed in a Wyoming hatchery where they were hatched artificially.
Hatchery trout fry also were tested as a control or reference population. Both populations suffered deformities including having two heads.
But you wouldn’t see such deformities in nature because the fry would simply die.
Mandvi interviewed me during his Idaho trip for three hours at the farm of Donna Anderson in Meridian. She had lots of old, unworking tractors strewn around her barns, which producer Brennan Shroff considered the right place to have Mandvi’s secret source (me)tell the influence of the Simplot’s in Idaho.
They began by asking me why I had never written a story about the two-headed fish.
I replied that when it broke I was on vacation in Mexico and the newspaper ran the New York Times story. Mandvi held up two fingers in each hand as quote marks saying “I see, you were ‘on vacation’”
With my answers, I was not only laying out a conspiracy of silence, I was in it.
When I was done I called my son David, a regular Daily Show viewer and told him I spent three hours with Mandvi.
“You're toast Dad,” David said.
So for the last month I’ve been waiting for the broadcast that would hold me up for ridicule. Then Thursday I got a call from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the show was to be run last night.
Here it comes. Later, a Daily Show producer e-mailed me to tell me my segment was cut.
I dodged a bullet.
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