In the worst example yet of The Daily Show’s “gotcha” tactics of using working cameras and microphones, North Carolina’s Don Yelton, a GOP county precinct chair, was caught making racist comments that were then recorded and broadcast on television, where others could hear them. And now The Daily Show’s devious strategy of letting its interviewees talk has cost Yelton his job: According to a statement given to Business Insider by spokesman Nathan West, the Buncombe County Republican Party asked for Yelton’s resignation “in direct response” to the interview that aired Wednesday night, wherein Aasif Mandvi questioned Yelton on the state’s controversial voter ID law, then set Yelton up by suggesting that neither the law nor Yelton was a racist. Mandvi then cunningly stopped talking, thereby prompting Yelton to give numerous examples of why he has “been called a ‘bigot’ before” by using the “gotcha” tactic of silence.
As he explained—while neither the unscrupulous Mandvi nor his crew shouted, “Don, nooooo!” and jumped in front of the camera—Yelton had done certain questionable things, like posting a photo of Obama “sitting on a stump as a witch doctor” to his Facebook page. (Though, he elaborated that he was “making fun of my white half of Obama, not the black half,” because it's important to laugh at yourself.) Yelton then wistfully recalled the days when “you didn’t call a black a ‘black,’ you called him a negro,” and lamented that black people throw the N-word around all the time and “it’s okay for them to do it.” And, in explaining that the voter ID law was intended to “kick Democrats in the butt,” he shrugged, “If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.” Still, Yelton explained to Mandvi that “one of my best friends is black”—a fact that The Daily Show willfully refused to flash on screen during Yelton’s comments, as a reminder that everything he was saying was actually totally cool.
“You know that we can hear you, right?” Mandvi said at the end, finally exposing his entire scheme to Yelton. But of course, by then they already had him. Yelton later said to the Mountain Xpress, “The questions were such that the answers can be played with. I expect them to play with my answers for racism,” accurately predicting that The Daily Show would “play” with his answers by playing them through a video machine that also had audio capabilities, thus making him seem incredibly racist. Nevertheless, he said of his comments, “I stand behind them. I believe them”—and, in a follow-up interview conducted just before he was forced to resign, Yelton commented to the paper, “To tell you the truth, there were a lot of things I said that they could've made sound worse than what they put up,” presumably by also recording them with their underhanded, functional equipment.