Interviewing Done Right
We here at NewsBusters spend a lot of time pointing out examples of liberal media bias and stupidity, and taking to task empty-suit reporters for a variety of offenses, including "gotcha" journalism wherein reporters set out their questions like a fur-trapper laying a line of traps. You've seen it - questions using quotes out of context, twisting words into a trap for the targeted political figure - usually a Republican of course.
Well, today I'd like to point you in the direction of someone who does it right. Peter Robinson, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, has been doing a series of in-depth interviews with various political figures, distinguished scholars, and leading journalists, and they are some of the most interesting and serious journalism you'll find anywhere.
There's no attempt to trip the interviewee into a gaffe, no gotcha journalism, no rhetorical tricks and traps. Just good questions designed to shed light on serious topics and issues.
Robinson's latest is a 32-minute interview of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, online here via Google Video. You can also find it on the Hoover Institution's Uncommon Knowledge website, which also has listings by date, topic and guest names, of the many other such in-depth interviews Robinson has done. In recent months he's turned in some terrific interviews with such people as Fred Thompson, Christopher Hitchens discussing the war in Iraq, author Andrew Ferguson discussing his book Land of Lincoln, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.
Uncommon Knowledge is now exclusive on the web, but it began life as a television series on PBS. The website has a free archive of all the videos and transcripts from the television series, which ran from 1997 to 2005, and all post-TV webcasts.) as well as the current Webcasts (2006 - present).
As the Uncommon Knowledge website explains, the webcasts are the raw unedited video of the interview - you don't get some liberal network reporter's edited version of what was said, you get the whole interview. In a world of soundbite politics and media coverage that often only skims the surface, it's a refreshing change.