Here’s a fun and interesting report about one of the perks of being a guest on ‘The Colbert Report’, the infamous swag bag provided to each guest. Interestingly enough, it was written by a former guest of the show. From the New York Times:
Hosting a Celebrity? What’s in the Gift Basket?
By Jennifer 8. Lee
So what mystery gifts do celebrities and politicians get in those green rooms where they wait before appearing on television shows?
Plane tickets for expensive trips? Coupons for plasma televisions? Skin creams that cost $100 an ounce? Accessories from up-and-coming designers? Well not at all.
City Room paid a recent visit behind the scenes of “The Colbert Report” and found more prosaic things: Bottled water. Altoids. Gum. Ground coffee. Tooth whitener. Vodka.
Here’s a side question about those public officials who like to appear on “Colbert” and “The Daily Show.” Are they allowed to take the gift baskets? After all, according to the Internal Revenue Service, swag can be considered taxable income.
For New York State officials and employees, “The law prohibits gifts of more than nominal value. It does not define what nominal value is,” said Walter Ayres, the spokesman for the New York State Commission of Public Integrity.
He explained that the law was changed last year, from a general cap of $75 “whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form, under circumstances in which it could reasonably be inferred that the gift was intended to influence him, or could reasonably be expected to influence him, in the performance of his official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action on his part.” (This law was written before the “she” pronoun for public officials became en vogue.)