Friday, June 30, 2006

Interviewing on the Slant

Not being very sophisticated in the art of the interview, it's taken me a long time to even begin to isolate the tricks and ploys that make a good or a bad interview. I've long been aware, in a general sense of the slant many interviewers bring to the table; their personal perspectives and biases, but the way they set up the questioning to make the interviewee look smart or stupid, honest or deceitful, rational or emotional often eludes me.

Today, I heard an excellent example of bias in first a very hostile, then a very favorable interview on the Laura Ingraham radio talk show.

I was working, so I couldn't listen in full concentration, so I missed the names of the two interviewees, but I heard most of their interviews.

The first one had been a captain in the Marines. He's currently a professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (a school with a perennially competitive varsity ice hockey team) . His thesis was that evidence seems to indicate that something other than--or rather, in addition to, the airliners brought the World Trade Center towers down.

Now, I know a few people who don't accept the official explanation of the collapse of the buildings, and think there must be more to it than that. I haven't had a chance to converse with any of them at length about their evidence and theories, so I was curious to hear what this man had to say.

Ingraham was continually interrupting him, butting in with questions that took him off-message, interrupting with statements of trust for the Administration and the 9-11 Commission (in spite of having poo-poohed the Commission in the past), and questions designed to make the professor seem wacky. She acted hostile and contentious throughout the interview. Fortunately, the professor was able to sidestep some of Ingraham's subversions, but unfortunately, he really wasn't able to get his message out--this according to Ingraham's plan.

The other was also a Marine officer--one who has been involved in the current Iraq war. He also was a well-spoken gentleman, but his agenda was very different. He has a book on the difficulty of fighting over there in the face of lack of media support over here. He also spoke on recent statements by leftist politicians and on the recent Supreme Court decision on military tribunals.

Throughout the interview, Ingraham lobbed softball questions designed to allow the gentleman to speak his mind. She was affable and supportive throughout. She gave the gentleman plenty of time to respond fully.

I enjoyed the chat thoroughly and generally agreed with his responses.

My difficulty here is with the way Ingraham, after inviting the professor to come onto the show, didn't allow him to make his points. I listen to talk radio quite a bit and have observed this phenomenon several times. This was, however, the first time I've seen such blatant opposites within an hour of each other.

We all (who pay attention to this stuff) know that Ingraham is a conservative, and a bit of a Kool-Aid drinker, but I'd never thought of her as incompetent. Or, maybe the truth is that she thinks her listeners are stupid.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

No comments: