JOHN GIBSON AND LOW EXPECTATIONS…. There was an unfortunate incident this week involving a doctored Fox News clip and John Gibson. The original piece reported:

At the end of a long and pointless conversation between two Fox News reporters covering a zoo escape, John Gibson compared Attorney General Eric Holder to a monkey.

A monkey escaped from the Woodland park Zoo in Seattle and despite the fact that authorities are “taking this very seriously,” Julie Banderas and Harris Faulkner were not, cracking jokes about the monkeys’ bright blue scrotum.

At 2:48, they toss to John Gibson who complains that he can’t get away with saying “bright blue scrotum” on the radio then follows that up by saying, “We were talking about Eric Holder today on the radio and his bright blue scrotum.”

Though this quickly made the rounds, Gibson did not say anything of the sort. The video spliced together two unrelated halves of different Gibson sentences. He was justifiably furious, and those who’d published the story ran retractions and apologies.

But what I found interesting about the unpleasant episode was how very easy it was to believe Gibson made the comment. No one, anywhere, heard this story and assumed something was amiss.

Put it this way: if we saw a report saying that ABC News’ Charles Gibson had told a national television audience, “We were talking about Eric Holder today on the radio and his bright blue scrotum,” many of us would have been pretty skeptical. When told that Fox News’ John Gibson made the comment, we thought, “Yeah, that sounds like something he’d say.”

Media Matters has done a great job for years of highlighting some of Gibson’s more jaw-dropping remarks, but who could forget his insults of Heath Ledger after his death? Or his concerns about “black devils” who “wanna fight the white devil”? Or how about his requests to white people to “make more babies“?

My personal favorite, as long-time readers may recall, was the time he lost it on the air while debating my friend Rob Boston over the “war on Christmas” — and then called Rob at home to threaten him personally.

No question, Gibson was treated unfairly this week. He was wronged, and the apologies were warranted. But I wonder if Gibson might take this opportunity to ponder why so many were willing to believe the unfair misquote in the first place.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.