The back story: My (kind of) viral, (kind of) Letterman moment with the governor

Murphy made odd comment about a bear, I made comment about day drinking, GOP made doctored clip of the moment — and it was all in fun

The first thing you have to know about the semi-viral clip of my recent interview with Gov. Phil Murphy is that there was not a dramatic pause between the governor’s unusual choice of words about eating a certain part of a bear (you have to see it to see what he really says) and my reaction about it being the result of “day drinking.”

That was for effect. For comedy. The Republican Party readily admits it.

“It’s a social media post,” GOP Assembly Communications Director Todd Riffle explained to me. “We were being a little bit entertaining. We were trying to have fun. This was typical.”

Murphy’s comments were not.

Instead of saying what many people feel is the true “business bear” quote: “Either you eat the bear, or the bear eats you,” Murphy said something entirely different last week. For the second time in five days.

It drew laughs from those who had heard about him saying it before — and “did-he-just-say-that” looks from others.

Taking advantage of all the training I got from years of watching David Letterman on late-night TV, I quickly referred to a comment the governor had made minutes earlier about how some would be driven to drink if they truly understood the ramifications of the poor pension payment decisions of his predecessors.

I said: “I think it goes with some of that day drinking, to be honest.”

All in good fun (the GOP clip of the incident is below, the actual clip is at the bottom).

Riffle and the GOP loved it. He said comedy is key when it comes to political posts.

“No one goes on social media to hear policy discussions,” he said. “Communicating about politics on social media is a difficult thing. In politics, it can all be about rulemaking, changes to a bill’s language or serious policy stuff.

“That’s not what people are searching for on social media. They can Google all that. We find a combination of being comedic and trying to send a message that is beneficial is the goal.

“And, then, of course, there’s also clickbait. I think this is one of those examples of that.”

As of earlier this week, more than 10,000 people had seen the moment on one of the GOP’s various social media sites: Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

There was plenty of engagement (likes, comments), which pleased the GOP. And plenty of first-time visitors to the account — another bonus.

“Ninety percent of them appear to be first-time users,” Riffle said.

As someone who previously worked at Yahoo, I know those are pretty good numbers. Not Kardashian numbers — but strong nonetheless. I also know that because a dozen or so people sent the clip to me (as if I weren’t there.)

More than anything, the video showed the variables that go into social media marketing.

Have you seen the video about the governor saying, “Kojak” and “Streets of San Francisco,” were his favorite shows as a kid — comments that also came up during the lighthearted interview?

Me, neither.

Not all comments catch on.

The bear comment did. Twice.

The first time (Murphy had said it at a transportation conference) was on the way to a viral moment … until it was announced that Sen. Bob Menendez had been indicted.

“It was skyrocketing, and then we watched it taper off immediately after that 10 a.m. press conference,” Riffle said.

The numbers also seem to show that Murphy has an audience — but not a national one.

“Can you imagine if Biden or Trump had said that?” Riffle asked, and then answered. “It would have been all over the late-night talk shows.”

A Letterman moment, for sure.

Instead, the clip made it to a few radio stations and then faded away. Internet fame is like that.

I guess the bear ate me.