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Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Crab Has Some Questions

Who else on the bell curve is as mystified as I at how inept the overpaid TV personalities - on both sides of the aisle - are at asking questions? It is so easy to ask open-ended questions, if a questioner is really interested in a nuanced answer. Each time I hear one of these expensive I-already-know-what-you're-going-to-say haircuts ask a leading question, I want to scream. How am I supposed to learn anything - aside from a scripted party line - if the smarmy interviewer is not doing their job?  Don't these people have assistants to help them craft their questions? And don't even get me started on the jackasses who interrupt their "experts".

Granted, the pundits being interviewed rarely vary from rehearsed narratives. Still, how about a few basic follow-up questions any college freshman majoring in journalism learns to ask given an evasive answer or talking point. Like, "What evidence can you offer to support that assertion?", "What data led you to that conclusion?", "What is the source for that statement?" Or, how about a simple technique like reading a short illustrative passage from a guest's book to give listeners context before asking about the views expressed in that book? This is not difficult. Pay closer attention the next time you listen to one of these elephant or donkey charades. It's infuriating.

My suggestion to the glamorous TV folks who read my blog for career-enhancing advice: Turn on NPR when Terry Gross is interviewing someone or … read her book. Listen carefully or read thoroughly. Rinse. Repeat. Maybe she's not as photogenic as you but she continually works at her craft. She also rarely asks a question for which she has an answer. FYI, that's how we all learn.



  1. Agree 100%. For photogenic TV personality who is also a good interviewer, I highly recommend Cristiane Amanpour's new show on PBS and CNN International - excellent, extended interviews. No punditry. So far I've seen great interviews with Kelly Ann Conway and Ethan Hawke. Alisyn Camerota is good but the show format doesn't always give her enough time. Chris Cuomo can be good, but gets carried away about 25% of the time (seems to happen more now that he is on at night); when he is on his game, though, he is great.

  2. Agree about 75%. Just look at the line up of good interviewers in the above comment. Terry Gross is a second national treasure after Ken Burns. I do like Rachel Maddow as well. She has incredible researchers and brings forth things no one else does.

    1. Ines & Kim; Thanks to both of you for the thoughtful responses. I plan to watch Amanpour's show; I've liked her measured approach when I've seen her elsewhere.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly! Especially about interviewers who interrupt their experts. And, lame questioning with no insight, over and over again. Will check out C. Amanpour’s show, Kim. I really like R. Maddow’s hour each night. As Ines said, she brings forth new information regularly and ties the cascading events of the days together. Often the observations she makes prove very significant weeks later. Overall, thank goodness for the press, shortcomings and all.