The Daily Show Caused - and Fixed - the Viral Scandal in Whitesboro NY

Jessica Williams’ "fake news" reporting on Whitesboro’s racist town seal had real results.

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  • We told you a while ago that Jessica Williams from “The Daily Show” went to Whitesboro, New York to cover the story about their racist town seal, which shows founder Hugh White wrestling with (or maybe choking) a Native American.

    Now “The Daily Show” is saying that Williams kind of caused the story to go viral in the first place.

    In Williams’ segment, she interviewed Mayor Patrick O’Connor and a number of town officials and residents about why the controversial image hasn’t been changed. “I guess if you’re going to have a racist seal, why not have it here in the Deep South… of Upstate New York?”

    It turns out the depiction of the wrestling match has changed a number of times over the years. Village clerk Dana Nimey-Olney said that in 1977 the seal was changed to move the white man’s hands away from the Native American’s neck, suggesting that they were aware how chokey it looked before.

    Williams said that when she found out a vote to change the seal hadn’t taken place because nobody had ideas for a new one, she submitted a bunch of ideas herself (some serious, some not) and the vote went ahead. But in the end the town voted to keep the old seal - and that’s when the Daily Show’s parody segment turned into an international news story.

    She was initially shocked and disappointed by the results. “If there are millions of people outside of the town telling you that the seal is racist, wouldn’t it do you a service to listen to them?” she asked the mayor.

    But O’Connor didn’t seem to get the message, saying, “People of our village know that this is just a friendly wrestling match.”

    Twist ending, though - when the segment finally aired last night, Jessica Williams triumphantly announced that the village leaders had changed their mind, and Hugh White’s descendants were going to meet with the local Native American tribe to come up with a seal that everyone would be happy with.

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