Manchin reaction to 'Buckwild' not far from spoof
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Love it or hate it, "Buckwild" is not going away.
Sen. Joe Manchin did not cancel the MTV show, no matter what you've read on Facebook or Twitter. His supposed influence over certain state boards and football teams notwithstanding, it is doubtful junior senators hold much sway over what will fill the soon-to-be-vacant "Jersey Shore" time slot.
"Buckwild" is still scheduled to debut at 10 p.m. Jan. 3.
Rumors about the controversial show's cancellation - hailed as an Appalachian version of the network's "Jersey Shore" - swirled after a spoof that appeared last week on the fake news site "The Diggerer."
On Nov. 30, Diggerer editor Todd Carpenter wrote a story headlined "MTV Buckwild Cancelled Same Day It Was Announced." The tongue-in-cheek entry spins a tale of how Manchin shut down production of "Buckwild" because he was worried it would portray the Mountain State in a negative light.
The story even featured quotes from Manchin, albeit completely fictional ones.
"I did this for West Virginia, for our children, and for the memory of my wonderful uncle, A. James Manchin," Carpenter quoted Manchin as saying.
"I'd like to think he's here in spirit helping us put a stop to these types of negative stereotypes. I also did it for America. I would hate for Americans to start hating West Virginia as much as they do Jersey right now."
Again, Manchin never said any of those things. But that didn't stop some West Virginians from taking the bait.
Twitter user Luke Mason wrote on Nov. 30, "Apparently Joe Manchin is canceling 'Buckwild.' I'm pissed I really wanted to see that."
Not everyone was disappointed.
"Did Joe Manchin really cancel 'Buckwild?' PRAISE THE LAWD," Twitter user Adreona Cole wrote on Sunday.
Mari Yost had similar feelings.
"Thank God Senator Manchin stepped in to take a stand against #Buckwild At least he cares about the state of West Virginia and its people's reputations!" she tweeted on Monday.
Interestingly, Sen. Manchin's true opinions are not much different from Carpenter's made-up quotes.
"It is absolutely atrocious," Manchin said of "Buckwild" in a real Wednesday telephone interview with the Daily Mail. "It's a shame, first of all, that that would be called entertainment, and that it would have to be done in West Virginia."
He said he was aware some Twitter and Facebook users were crediting him with canceling the show.
"I wish I could," he said. "I'd loved to be blamed for that."
Manchin said he has not watched the trailer for "Buckwild," released last week, but has read a lot about the "irresponsible behavior" featured in the show.
MTV said in a release that the series is about a group of friends "united by the deep pride they have for small-town American life, in which they find unique ways to create their own fun."
The trailer features underage drinking, explosions, mud bogging, an improvised swimming pool made from a Mack truck, an improvised merry-go-round made from a backhoe, casual sex and more than a few "bleeped" curse words.
"I just think it's not the way a lot of us were raised in West Virginia," Manchin said. "I like to brag and show off all the good things about our state, and you have to fight off these stereotypes."
Manchin said he's surprised anyone would want to watch a show like "Buckwild." He encouraged all Mountain State residents to voice their opinions about the program.
"If it comes off as disrespectful, I think that all of us, all West Virginians should speak out about it," he said. "I would not hesitate a minute to jump in on it."
Shortly after Manchin's Daily Mail interview, he wrote about the controversy on his official U.S. Senate Twitter account.
"To clear up confusion on "Buckwild;" I wish I could take credit for stopping anything that portrays #WV poorly, but this story is satire," he tweeted. "It's a shame that people are making money off so-called entertainment when they should be teaching people how to be more responsible adults.
"My message to MTV is this: One day this could be your kids, and I hope you put a stop to such an inaccurate and despicable portrayal," Manchin wrote.
This is not the first time The Diggerer has fooled Mountain State residents. Shortly after the site launched on April Fool's Day, many Internet users thought his fake stories about the state Legislature banning drive-through windows was real.
Others were duped by a story reporting Johnny Depp had been cast as Jesco White in an upcoming movie.
It's not that Carpenter is trying to deceive people. The site clearly identifies itself as a "satire news site for the state of West Virginia." It was allegedly founded on "April 1, 1888" - April Fools' Day - and is allegedly headquartered in "Odd, W.Va."
Still, Carpenter said at least one of his stories goes "viral" each month. Last month, Internet users began circulating a Diggerer story from September about the Ku Klux Klan's yearly march in Harpers Ferry.
The story, which lampooned the racist group, claimed this year's march would serve as an endorsement of President Barack Obama's reelection campaign. Carpenter said the story was widely posted online, by both conservatives and liberals, many of whom believed the story was real.
He said Tuesday he was not initially aware Internet users were mistaking his fake "Buckwild" story for actual news. He's not exactly upset about the misunderstanding.
"I'm pleased that some people haven't got it yet," he said. "It's a good spot to be, right in the middle of a debate."
Carpenter said he understands some of his audience has difficulty separating fact from fiction but prefers to believe they enjoy his jokes.
"I like to think people enjoy a good tall tale and a good laugh," he said.