Answer the question!
I want to see an interview — actually I would even pay to see an interview — in which the interviewee answers the question. Of course, I am referring to the US presidential elections. Why do they robotically answer questions — actually, not answer questions — by defaulting directly to talking points? No matter what question is asked, by Fox or MSNBC and whether the respondent is Democrat or Republican, the result is always the same, the direct response is skirted (at best) and then the interviewee dives — actually, canon balls — into a diatribe of canned — actually, stale — responses.
I long for short, direct answers to questions that matter. You cannot answer the question: “What would you do?” with “My opponent…” Why are we tolerating this? Why are media engaging in this complicity? Are they so afraid of losing the next interview opportunity? My guess is yes. I believe that most journalists and their employers have come full circle to the days of, what I call, the ‘reporters on the steps.’ I’m referring to the days when a dignitary, e.g. a US President, would come out on the ‘steps’ of the Capitol or other building of importance, and reporters would repeat the points quasi-verbatim. We seem to be back to a similar era. Granted, some journalists are trying to ask the tough questions but they are still letting the interviewees get away with pablum responses. Where does this pressure come from? How has this tolerance for manipulation come about? Is it management? Is it ratings? Is it such a strong trend that journalists are afraid to be seen as trend buckers? Clearly, when a reporter strongly challenges a politician’s response and insists on an answer, she or he is labelled a bully. I have even heard other journalists label their colleagues as such; it’s simply not done!
I want answers, not responses!
I can just imagine one of my daughters handing in a school term paper using the same tactic, digressing into peripheral arguments instead of answering the question. I can imagine the grade. What would I do, go to the teacher and insist that she let my daughters get away with the same standards as our leaders? Yeah, right.