Jan-splaining the misinformation

Happy to be invited by Wil Anderson for ABC's Question Everything, Jan Fran now has to wade through the spin & clickbait.

“Everything is on the table,” promises Jan Fran.

“When we first started workshopping the show, we thought, ‘I wonder if we’re going to have enough stuff to talk about each week?’ Not only do we have enough stuff… we have so much stuff! It’s partly exciting, but partly terrifying just how much misinformation is out there.

“It’s not just a Russian bot trying to skewer US elections. It’s misinformation, disinformation, it’s deliberate, accidental, people sharing without knowing that it’s wrong. It’s spin, clickbait. It’s all of these things.”

Fran joins Wil Anderson for new panel show Question Everything this week on ABC.

The show conceived by Anderson seeks to debunk fake stories, false claims, scams, frauds and outright lies.

Produced by the Gruen team from CJZ, the 8 part series sees the hosts joined each week by 3 comedians, separating fact from fiction in a world where it is prevalent.

“It’s something Wil’s been thinking about since 2016,” Fran explains. “I can’t imagine what big event would have spurred him on to think about misinformation!

“He approached me last year with the idea and said, ‘This is what I’m thinking. I’d love to attach you to the project.’ When Wil Anderson comes to you with an idea like this, the answer is unequivocally ‘Yes’ followed very quickly by ‘Thanks!'”

The former host of The Feed grew to know Anderson via a podcast interview,

“I just remember walking away from that chat thinking ‘Why do I tell that man all my secrets? I don’t even know him!’ It just sort of felt very familiar,” she laughs.

“I’m very flattered that he’s landed on me.”

Like Gruen, episodes will be filmed the night before broadcast in order to remain current. Guests this week are Luke Heggie, Alexis Toliopoulos and Concetta Caristo.

“Each week, we’ll be joined by three panelists / comedians. I think part of the real appeal of this show, and part of what it wants to do is to provide a platform for comedians that you might not really see on Australian television.

“It’s a space for comedians, as much as it is a space for us to go into news. Once we get into the middle of that Venn diagram, that’s when we’ll be at our best.”

Jansplaining‘ is also her own weekly segment.

“It’s like mansplaining, but far less annoying, hopefully. We’re going to be looking at all the tricks and the tactics that are used by either media outlets, politicians, people in power, to get you to believe certain things, to get you to click to get you to keep reading.

“The highest amount of misinformation comes from people like -and I love her- my mother, my aunt, and my family members who are in WhatsApp groups, sharing memes and videos and all measure of stuff about the pandemic that is either fake, doctored, not real, propaganda, etc.

“One of the things that I’m really interested in, is how do you actually have conversations with people who are being misled or are reading things that are incorrect?

“I’ve got people in my family where you have to have these kind of hard conversations with.

“It’s ubiquitous, so many people have that same story. It just goes to show how deep misinformation runs.”

The show also has its own fact checkers as they scour all newspapers, radio, television, online and social media for misinformation.

“We have a whole team of people to make sure that we get our facts right. But here’s the thing. There may come a point where we don’t. We’re not infallible. One of the things that I really stress going into the show is that we need to also turn this lens onto ourselves, as well. I’ve been fooled by deep fakes. I’ve seen a video of Tom Cruise, trying to put on a turtleneck, thinking that video was hilarious. And it wasn’t Tom Cruise. It was a deep fake video!

“So I’m not immune to any of this stuff at all. I’m not immune to clickbait. I’m not immune to spin. I’d like to think that I am, but in some instances I’m not.

“One of our producers put it really well: the panel is not fighting amongst themselves or competing with themselves to get the right answer. What this is the five of us trying to fight against the tide of misinformation.”

Question Everything airs 8:30pm Wednesday on ABC.

8 Responses

    1. Agreed. Very disappointing. I struggled with it all the way.

      I’ve never seen comedians fawning so much over each other’s gags. Just one setup after another. No real insights or info. More like green room banter.

    2. They were all laughing hysterically as though someone had just told the funniest joke that ever existed, it was cringe worthy. One of the female presenter had a really annoying laugh but i didn’t watch long enough to work out who. .I normally like Jan Fran on the Project & am an avid Gruen fan too, so yes, disappointed .

  1. Struggled through it. Only once. Someone should tell the producers The Project already airs earlier in the evening. Then someone should tell The Project that Studio 10 already airs earlier in the day. Then everyone involved in all three shows should have their noses rubbed in something so they just never do any of it ever again.

  2. I’m in. Intrigued to see how the format is structured. Media Watch has been doing this well for years but it’s such a short timeslot.

    Hopefully the content is compelling and the comedians add value with penetrating insights.

  3. There is a lot of misinformation and it’s from media on all sides of the political spectrum. Another problem is the obfuscation of factual information and the use of fact checking to provide a narrative that may adhere to data and statistics but may omit relevant underlying information. I hope the show is sincere and it is good to debunk a lot of the misinformation about the virus from fringe groups. As someone that checks a variety of sources and not just one side or any particular publication on its own, it would be interesting to see their take on misinformation and the topics.

    I will check out this show as a fan of Gruen and its variants, and The Glass House, mainly because of the appeal of humour, comedians and the panel show format.

  4. The biggest spreader of lies, fake news & misinformation is the Murdoch media so I hope that gets addressed. I’m looking forward to this show. It should be interesting.

Leave a Reply