Meeting the Press

One letter writer to The Wall Street Journal‘s Thursday last Letters section commented on an earlier WSJ Joseph Epstein op-ed regarding the Old Stream Press’ Meet the Press, put on by performance theater network NBC. One comment by the correspondent drew my eye.

Instead, too many journalists frame their questions in ways designed to distort politicians’ messages to their political detriment.

A lot of that, though, is on the politician interviewee. Far too often, the interviewee is too timid—or too unable to think on his feet—to push back and point out that the interviewer is proceeding from false underlying premises with the question.

Too often, also, the interviewee is too timid—or too unable to think on his feet—to ask the interviewer for the evidence he has underlying his question, emphasizing that “reports” are not evidence, just rumor-mongering. And to the inevitable interviewer follow-up, “Do you deny those reports?” answering, “You’re still not offering any evidence.”

Relatedly, too many interviewees are too timid to simply talk through an interviewer’s interruptions, and then at the end of his answer to call out the interviewer’s insult to the segment’s viewers, pointing out that the interviewer with his interruptions is telling the audience that he thinks they’re too stupid to decide for themselves what they will hear and how they will interpret it.

It takes two to properly play an interviewer’s dominance game.

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