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Say Cheese

By Annie Gausn | Jul. 2, 2006

Law Office Management

Jul. 2, 2006

Say Cheese

A prosecutor ends up on Comedy Central.

By Susan Davis
      Fans of the Daily Show, Comedy Central's Emmy Awardwinning fake news program hosted by Jon Stewart, know how Stewart and company make fun of just about anything-or anyone. So why would a real lawyer even think of appearing on the show?
      Tricia Pummill, a deputy district attorney in San Diego County, agreed to talk on camera to Daily Show correspondent Dan Bakkedahl about the crackdown her office launched against vendors of illegal cheese believed to be coming from Mexico.
      Bakkedahl, dressed as a bandolero with an oversize sombrero during his on-the-street interviews, questioned Pummill in typical over-the-top Daily Show fashion, complete with tense background music. And when Pummill tried to explain that she had put together a "Cheese Task Force" made up of federal, state, and local investigators, Bakkedahl simply smirked.
      Needless to say, Pummill didn't come across looking very sharp. But, in the midst of the fun, what the Daily Show failed to mention was that hundreds of people had almost died two years ago from a salmonella outbreak that was tied to the sale of unpasteurized queso fresco. "We were balancing the risk of being made fun of against the importance of getting the word out to consumers," explains Gail Stewart (no relation to Jon), director of communications for the San Diego District Attorney's office. What they didn't bargain for, however, was that the health threat aspect would be almost totally lost on the show.
      "The Daily Show can spoof the story as much as they want," Gail Stewart says, "but the bottom line is that people can die from this."

Annie Gausn

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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