Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell three stories about a new secret recording that made the news, only one of which is true.

CARL KASELL, BYLINE: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Brian Babylon, Kyrie O'Connor and Roy Blount Jr. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.

JENN UMBERG: Hi. This is Jennifer calling from San Francisco.

SAGAL: Oh, how are things in beautiful San Francisco?

UMBERG: They're pretty OK. We're in the middle of spring, which means it's somewhat foggy and somewhat summery, before we actually hit winter in June.


SAGAL: Right, that'll be exciting. Now, I have to say that anybody from San Francisco who just says, when asked about the state of the city, oh, it's pretty OK, is not actually from San Francisco. Anybody from San Francisco believes their city to be paradise on Earth, and nothing bad can be said about it.

UMBERG: Yeah, that's pretty true.

SAGAL: Well, that's more like it. Thank you. I appreciate it.


SAGAL: Now I believe you. It's nice to have you with us, Jenn. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Jenn's topic?

KASELL: Is this thing on?

SAGAL: Open mics and secret recordings have led to all sorts of revelations. Nixon was corrupt. We all look way grosser than we thought when we we're having sex. And this week a new set of secret recordings made the news. Guess which panelist has the real story and you win Carl's voice on your voicemail or home answering machine. Are you ready to play?

UMBERG: Ready.

SAGAL: All right. Let's do it. First, let's hear from Brian Babylon.

BRIAN BABYLON: Before Jay-Z or Old Dirty Bastard, there was even an older dirtier bastard.


BABYLON: Alexander Graham Bell.


BABYLON: Bell was known for inventing the hydrofoil, the metal detector and of course the telephone. But he should also be credited for being the godfather of hip-hop. In autumn of 2011, Dr. Candice Norcott, a Yale University sound media historian, found embossed foil that had been impressed into wax cylinders. These were Bell's attempts to record and capture sound. On one of the discs, she made an amazing discovery - a recording of Bell himself. On it, Bell can be heard rapping. Yes, rapping in 1885. Bell, along with his cousin and lab assistant, Chichester Bell, can be heard having a good old-fashioned freestyle hip-hop cipher, with Chichester Bell providing a rhythmic beat on what is thought to be a desk. Alexander Graham Bell then goes into rhyming on beat the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem "God's Grandeur."


BABYLON: Which more than a century before snoop, he called "God's Grand-izzle."


SAGAL: Alexander Graham Bell.


SAGAL: Secret father of rap. The next story of the secret tape comes from Kyrie O'Connor.

O'CONNOR: A phone call apparently leaked from a fast food restaurant has revealed that life at the White House may not be all kale chips and fresh blueberries, despite the first lady's well-known campaign for more healthful eating. An employ at Cinnabon in northwest Washington, D.C. said all phone calls are recorded for quality control. But this one was extra special. Hi, I'd like to place an order, said a voice that sounded very much like Michelle Obama's distinctive tone. Do you deliver? When told they did, she proceeded. OK, I'll have a half-dozen Cinnabon Pecanbons, six classics Cinnabons, 12 Center of the Rolls and a box of minis and a black coffee.


O'CONNOR: And I want you to take two of the Cinnabons, get a slice of pizza from the Domino's next door and make a kind of pizza-Cinnabon sandwich.


O'CONNOR: Then I want you to cover the whole thing in nacho cheese and stick it in a Doritos taco shell. Oh, you don't want to do it? Well, my husband controls the armed forces, and I control my husband.


O'CONNOR: So I think you'd better do it. She then gives the address of the White House and the name Robinson, the first lady's maiden name. They'll buzz you in, she said, and come around the back. The employee said he believes the delivery went smoothly.


SAGAL: A recording of someone who might have been Michelle Obama ordering...


SAGAL: ...A castle of junk food. Your last story of an unwanted recording or an unexpected recording comes from Roy Blount Jr.

ROY BLOUNT JR.: We've heard of butt-dialing, but this is new. A man identified as Plaintiff D.B. is suing two doctors in Fairfax, Virginia for over $1 million because they mocked him while performing a colonoscopy. The patient was unconscious at the time, but as it happened, his cell phone was set to record.


BLOUNT: He had set it that way to record instructions for postoperative care and had forgotten, he says, to turn it off. When he played the recording back, he heard the doctors as they called him a wimp, disparaged his manhood because he attended Mary Washington College and worse. It makes you wonder whether that area of medicine has a coarsening effect.


BLOUNT: And it reminds me of nothing so much as the story about a man named Bobby, who, in a night of drinking, accidentally swallowed a glass eye. Somebody had probably been soaking it in a glass, you know, and Bobby never even noticed. The next morning, Bobby had an appointment for a colonoscopy. And the doctor took one look up in there and said, now, Bobby, if you don't trust me...


SAGAL: Reminded you of a joke, did it?

BLOUNT: Yeah, it did.


SAGAL: All right. One of the secret recordings came to light this last week. Was its from Brian Babylon - a recording in which Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, seems to also invent hip-hop - from Kyrie O'Connor - a tape recording in which a woman who sounded a lot like Michelle Obama ordered a bunch of Cinnabons and other things for the White House - or from Roy Blount Jr. - a secret recording of doctors doing what we always worry they do, mocking us when we're put under the anesthetic. Which of these is the real story of a secret recording?

UMBERG: As much as I want it to be number one, I'm going to go with number three.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Roy's story about the taping of the colonoscopy?


SAGAL: All right. Well we spoke to reporter who actually picked up this story.

RYAN ABBOTT: The doctors were saying some pretty mean at awful stuff. You know, he had a [bleep], a [bleep].


ABBOTT: They talked about firing his [bleep] up his [bleep].


SAGAL: That was Ryan Abbott, a reporter for Courthouse News Service, talking about the doctors recorded during a colonoscopy. Congratulations, Jenn. You got it right.


SAGAL: You earned a point for Roy, and you won our prize - Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Well done.


UMBERG: Thank you.

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