Friday, October 3, 2008

...can you think of any?

According to interview guru John Sawatsky, you don't need to be a pit bull named Bruiser to conduct a good interview. In a piece I read so long ago that i can't remember where I put it, he posits that the best interviews, in fact, are about discipline on the part of the reporter, rather than the power differential between interviewer and source. They are about listening, leading the source down the path toward the given goal: staying in control by playing nice.

Which brings up Katie Couric's exchange with Sarah Palin wrt the Supreme Court. Watch how Couric's quiet little follow-up gets the job done:

1 comment:

-jh said...

I wrote this rant for my blog, but decided I shouldn't publish it there. A little too opinionated.

What I'm up in arms about is Palin's post-interview spin about the beautifully delivered question BK is showing. The response can be found here:

I realize this is spin after an interview that did not go well, to say the least, but I couldn't believe that Palin had the audacity to say, "I just wanted to talk to American without that filter and let them know what we stand for."

Before that, Palin detailed what she really wanted to talk about -- arguments against Obama that would "disqualify someone from consideration as commander in chief."

She said was "annoyed" because "if you choose to answer a question, you're gonna get clobbered on the answer, if you choose to try to pivot and go onto another subject that you believe that Americans want to hear about you get clobbered for that, too."

The "filter" that Palin is referring to is being a public official having to answer questions of voters through the fourth estate -- the press. She got the chance to filter her message and attack Obama when she spoke at the Republican National Convention. She gets the chance to filter her message every day at campaign rallies.

The public knows very little about Palin, and when she submits to questioning by the press, the public actually gets an unfiltered version. I can understand why Palin won't go on Keith Olberman's show -- I wouldn't either in her shoes -- but Katie Couric wasn't asking politically-motivated questions. She asked what newspapers Palin reads. She asked what Supreme Court cases Palin disagrees with. Isn't that somethign the public deserves to know, if she could one day have the power to appoint Supreme Court justices?

I understand the Republican's strategy campaigning against the "media elites" and The New York Times. I don't like it, since I'm now one of those East Coast media people, but it's a fair strategy, one the press can defend by doing it's job and being fair.

What isn't fair is McCain and Palin shutting down access for their press corps. After this interview, I had a newfound respect for Couric. But I was repeatedly annoyed with people who would say, "Why is the MSM so bad that Katie Couric had to be the one to ask Palin tough questions?" She was the one because no one from the Times could touch her. Hell, no one from the Washington Times nor New York Post could touch her. In Couric, the McCain camp though they were getting an easy interview. She won't go on a live show like "Meet the Press," where the segments couldn't be edited.

The Republican ticket's arrogance in thinking that it can keep the media at bay and take complete control of its message is a telling sign of how a McCain administration would be run.

A scary one, too.