November 30, 2007
Let Them Eat Facts
I think it says a lot about my life that, even in Amsterdam, Tim Russert's worth as an interviewer comes up at dinner. The argument was made that he is absolutely as tough as any interviewer working today, and what more can we expect? My rejoinder, which I thought exceptionally on-point, was that it's not the "toughness" of the questions but the content. Just once, rather than see him compare some politician's current position to the one they held when they were eight, I'd like to see him compare some politician's current position to the actual data from a Congressional Budget Office graph. That would still be tough, but it would also be relevant. Sadly, this clever rejoinder appears to be Paul Krugman's argument, rather than mine, but it's still correct.
My rejoinder, which I thought exceptionally on-point, was that it's not the "toughness" of the questions but the content. Just once, rather than see him compare some politician's current position to the one they held when they were eight, I'd like to see him compare some politician's current position to the actual data from a Congressional Budget Office graph.
I think that when it comes to the press one must always keep in mind that the goal to attract eyes and ears so that products can be sold. They are all very similar to the Enquirer as much they like to pretend that there is a great gap between the legitimate media and the tabloids. People need to talk to neighbors and friends and do real research to get information.
Posted by: Floccina | Nov 30, 2007 9:30:01 AM
I remember feeling the exact same way in the Reagan years, in which the press continually yielded to His Majesty in substance but occasionally making sure to sound gruff in asking questions, thus prompting "tha librul media" charges by the right.
Posted by: El Cid | Nov 30, 2007 9:38:51 AM
All true and a good point. But let's not throw out the "you said x and now say y" question altogether. They can, after all, be illuminating. I.e., if the person had no good reason to change position, it's revealing about their character and/or reasoning processes. And if they do have a good reason, the exposition of the reason for the change can also be illumnating on the substance. For example, although the Ruth Marcus column about Krugman was stupid, I still found his response explaining his earlier statements and what has caused him to change his position somewhat to be very educational.
Posted by: Glenn | Nov 30, 2007 9:43:52 AM
Dude, skip out of Amsterdam and go over to Berlin!
Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 | Nov 30, 2007 10:18:39 AM
I have to admit I've always been skeptical of this argument. When Russert starts asking about the CBO, candidates will just respond with the latest Heritage or CATO paper and nobody will come out the better for it. In fact it will just make political discourse about policy papers, and whlie I may find that attractive I don't think many other people would agree with me.
Posted by: Charles | Nov 30, 2007 2:10:51 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.