CHICAGO (CBS) — Max Rice appeared on Fox News Channel this week as a dopey, shifty-eyed young man who claimed to be a disgruntled supporter of President Barack Obama, but he was actually Columbia College student committing a prank.
Rice appeared Monday on “Fox and Friends” for a live satellite interview with Gretchen Carlson. He purported to be an unemployed college student who had just moved out of his parents’ home, and who had changed his allegiance to Republican Mitt Romney out of frustration with the economy.
But during the interview, Rice responded to Carlson’s questions with strange answers and non sequiturs, wearing a smirk reminiscent of Matt LeBlanc’s Joey character from “Friends” the whole time.
Carlson asked Rice to talk about his belief in the “hope and change” message of the 2008 Obama campaign, and why it had evaporated. Rice replied as he drank from a paper coffee cup: “I was a huge Obama supporter in 2008. I met him in third grade. I met him when I was little.”
If the story were true, Obama at the time would have been a Illinois State Senator who was little-known outside of Chicago. But rather than dwelling on the subject, Carlson moves on and asks Rice why he is now supporting Romney.
“It’s actually a funny story,” he replies. “I lost a basketball game to a friend of mine… he’s a huge supporter of this show.”
When Carlson replies that it sounds like Rice isn’t “being very serious,” Rice quickly follows up, “I’m also disappointed in the direction that Obama has taken this nation.”
Rice then tells Carlson he had to go back and live with his parents after college, but says now: “I’m independent. I’m on my own. I’m on national TV. I’m doing good.”
Finally, Carlson repeats that she does not think Rice is being serious, to which he replies, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, why not?”
Carlson finally says she is not sure that Rice is “ready for prime time” and cuts him off, saying he might get “another chance maybe when he’s ready to do the interview.”
Well, it turns out that Carlson was right about Rice not being serious about the interview. Max Rice is the young man’s real name, but he is only 20 and not yet done with college, and he tells Talking Points Memo his goal was to play a prank, and make a point about cable news coverage.
Rice told TPM he claimed he had graduated college when Fox News called him for a possible appearance, but Fox did not make any effort to vet his claim. The Glencoe native actually graduated from high school just two years ago, and wasn’t even eligible to vote in 2008, published reports point out.
Fox kept in contact with Rice in the days before the Monday interview, but he tells TPM he gave no straight answers. Sometimes he would say he got his English degree from Texas, while other times he claimed he was in engineering, he told TPM.
Rice actually studied at the University of Texas before transferring to Columbia College, TPM reports. He is studying film at the downtown school.
And the story about losing the basketball game? That’s actually true, Rice tells TPM, and he plans to honor his commitment to vote for Romney based on it.
Rice tells the online publication that his goal was to make the point that the news media should be used to “educate the masses, instead of getting ratings and selling Cheetos.”