Don Lemon’s Lively Interview with Wasserman Schultz
I’ve long contended (in some posts and in many conversations with friends and my former newspaper coworkers) that legitimate follow up questions in interviews seem on the wane. Instead, we have ideological talk show hosts or ideological news talk shows anchors on networks who either act as p.r. guides to people of their own party and prosecuting attorneys to people of the opposite party — or professional newspeople who let a news source’s comment stand and leave it there.
Once upon a time reporters were trained to persist if they did not get an answer to their question. And then there’s America’s biggest industry: spin, where people of both parties peddling a political case come on and basically recite lawyeristic evasive of downright inaccurate answers and the reporter nods and moves on. Someone moving their mouth and saying things often suffices.
Here’s Don Lemon’s interview with DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz which is peppered with “old school” follow up questions. It has generated lots of controversy because in an election year partisans are angry whenever their side doesn’t look good. But it reminds me of some of the interviews I conducted with American and Mexican officials when I covered the border for the San Diego Union and had to ask a question several times until I either got an answer or the source made it clear that was their story and they were sticking to it:
Leave your view in comments — and try to detach a party label when you do.
FOOTNOTE: We’ve seen other versions of this kind of journalism: Bob Schieffer’s famous interview with Newt Gingrich, Roger Mudd’s interview with Teddy Kennedy (which deflated Kennedy’s Presidential campaign in the long run), many of the 60 minutes interviews and even some interviews Mitt Romney had before he was clearly the presumptive nominee on Fox News with Chris Wallace. And many of the interviews conducted by Mike Wallace.