Bass Fishing Coverage in Non-Traditional Venues: The Daily Show

Michael Iaconelli on the Daily Show in 2005.

Michael Iaconelli on the Daily Show in 2005.

In today’s age of constant political sniping and a 24 hour media circus, The Daily Show on Comedy Central is widely known as a “fake news” program popular among younger viewers and generally tending to skew toward a liberal perspective. In August of 2005, however, it was less well known and therefore it was easier for them to lampoon unsuspecting guests. The show had gained notoriety through its coverage of the prior two presidential elections, but host Jon Stewart still was not quite a household name in many sectors of society.

The world of bass fishing has not been spared from The Daily Show’s sometimes harsh gaze. In August of 2005 it showed this satirical segment featuring both Mike Iaconelli and “fellow competitor and casual fishing wear model” Walt Reynolds:

 

 

Professional bass angler, Walt Reynolds.

Professional bass angler, Walt Reynolds.

Filmed at the 2005 Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh, the segment is clearly tongue-in-cheek, and takes wide poetic license, but it points out an important historical fact: Less than a decade ago, Mike Iaconelli was far more controversial than he is now. Many other anglers considered his dancing and yelling to be disrespectful and inappropriate. One publication quoted another pro as calling him “the Yankee even the other Yankees don’t like.”

Less than six months later, GQ magazine named him one of “The Ten Most Hated Athletes” (in between Bonzi Wells and Kobe Bryant), calling him “America’s biggest basshole” and claiming that he had “repeatedly defied the sport’s time-honored codes.”

On The Daily Show, former tour level pro Reynolds was set up to explain the opposing position. He decried Ike’s “junebug spins” and asked, “Why would you yell at the poor fish? It’s not like the fish is going to pull out a knife and stick you.”

The segment has largely been forgotten, some of its participants have gone on to bigger things. Ike had already won a Bassmaster Classic, but he went on to win the AOY title in 2006, and has won four Bassmaster events and and a Stren (AKA, Rayovac) on Kerr Reservoir since the interview. He had won the FLW Tour Chevy Open on the Potomac just a few months earlier. He is still disliked in some segments, but the “us vs. them” storyline has dissipated substantially.

Former Daily Show Correspondent, EWd Helms.

Former Daily Show Correspondent, Ed Helms.

Interviewer Ed Helms has gone onto even bigger notoriety, starring in the television show “The Office” and the “Hangover” series of movies.

While the players may have moved on, the coverage of bass fishing in widely-disseminated media remains scattershot at best. There are occasionally positive pieces, but most often their efforts have some level of negativity in them, as in this recent Grantland article focused on cheating in big money tournaments.

  • For my money, the most significant, mainstream media coverage of tournament bass fishing was the 20/20 piece on the 1980 Classic, which aired in prime time on Thanksgiving night of ’80. No-one at BASS had any idea that ABC was showing up to cover the event. Not even Ray. It was the first network news acknowledgement that the sport even existed. This wasn’t the ABC of Disney and ESPN. It was Roone Arledges ABC News, and they did a pretty good job. Mostly because the ABC News exec who pitched the idea to Roone and served as an executive producer was an avid bass fisherman.

    • Terry Battisti

      Rich, at the time I watched every episode of 20/20. I don’t recall ever seeing that one? I would have loved to see it. I guess I was passed out after a tournament.

      • Trying to dig up a copy. Of course it’ll be on video tape.