There are no shortages of posts on this network calling out hit pieces on restaurants, but last week’s 20/20 episode set a new low. They used an expert who hasn’t worked in the industry since the 90’s to provide the shocking “new revelations.” They pulled out Willie Degel to provide them with insight on every restaurant, except his. They even used footage from the fake “Restaurant Stakeout” reality show that Mr. Degel hosts. All of this was done with no acknowledgement that the fake hidden camera footage they showed was at best coached and at worst actors hired to play servers.
None of this is really all that different from all of the other hit pieces on restaurants, except this time they had the truth and decided not to use it.
I know because I was the expert that ended up on the cutting room floor.
In an effort to scare diners and grab ratings, 20/20 threw any semblance of journalistic integrity out the window. If they had any desire to report a factual story, they would have used real footage and real interviews with people who have not blatantly impeached their credibility. The show made famous by Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters has become nothing more than TMZ with better production values. The most respected news department in network television turns a blind eye to sleazy reporting that would have landed producers in the unemployment line when truth mattered more than ratings. I wish this was simply hyperbole, but to pass off fake footage as real and using fiction authors as experts reaches a new low.
Both producers for the segment have provided comments on the piece in their defense. Take time to decide whether this is a fake segment after reading Was The 20/20 Restaurant Episode Fake?