Sunday, September 12, 2010

The followup question

I've never conducted an interview on a radio show.  I assume it's difficult to think on your feet quickly enough to challenge a guest when they're obviously lying to you.  On the other hand, we might expect people who choose that line of work to have some skills along these lines.

At any rate, I was rather disappointed with Scott Simon's interview with Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) yesterday on NPR.  Price just used each question as essentially a prompt for the next conservative talking point, and Simon never challenged any of his answers.  The most frustrating was the final exchange:
SIMON: Congressman, can you reduce the deficit and cut taxes at the same time?
Mr. PRICE: I think you can, and I think President Kennedy proved it. I think President Reagan proved it. The fact of the matter is when you decrease taxes in our economy and allow individuals to keep more of their hard-earned money, what you do is actually increase the economic vitality and productivity of this country. And a byproduct of that, gloriously, is more revenue for the federal government.
SIMON: Congressman Tom Price of Georgia speaking with us from his office in Marietta. Thanks so much.
Excuse me, President Reagan proved that you can reduce the deficit and cut taxes at the same time?  Okay, I can think of several good followup questions to that:

  • "Do you realize what the hell you just said?"
  • "Are you at all constrained by the truth?"
  • "Were you in a coma during the 1980s?"
  • "What are you smoking right now, and can I have some?"

Or maybe just,

  • "President Reagan reduced taxes, and the deficit soared.  How does this prove your point?"
There are plenty more that would be far better than "Thanks so much."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Point taken. But I think this is something that NPR does across the board. The only time I've heard anything different was an interview with Elizabeth Warren on Planet Money:

Davidson actually challenges Warren on some of the claims she makes, and people who listened decided Davidson was essentially a Republican plant bound and determined to make Warren look back.

Like her ideas or not, Davidson does a damn fine job attempting to get her to actually state clear opinions and understand what's actually going on. The outcome? No one liked it.

Pols have no incentive to provide anything but talking points, not just because of their incentives, but also because they know the reporters won't really challenge them (since they don't have any incentive to do more than ask the first question and ignore the answer).