This needs to happen a lot more often. What needs to happen more often? Well, I’ll answer that in just a second. First, let me ask another question…
How sick are you of a reporter or a talk show host asking a question, and the guest or panelist gives an answer that has nothing to do with what was asked? They ramble for 30 seconds, and come nowhere close to addressing what they were asked to address. Then, they’re either re-asked the question or the interviewer moves on. Either way, I can’t stand it. A good interview, be it with one other person, or with a panel, is when the questions aren’t just answered, but a conversation gets started. As someone who has been on the end of the microphone asking the questions, I can attest first hand to how that affects the interviewer, which in turn, affects the rest of the interview.
From the interviewer’s standpoint, you start asking yourself stuff like:
“Am I not asking the question right?”
“If I call this person out, will I lose access to them for future interviews?”
“Is my audience losing interest? I know I would, b/c this is crap.”
And there are few feelings in broadcasting worse than walking away from what you thought would be a big interview and thinking, “well, that was a lot of nothing.”
So what would happen if the host put a stop to it? What would happen if the host said, “I’m not having this,” and meant it? Baton Rouge’s own Don Lemon found himself in this situation last week and this is what happened… and it needs to happen a lot more often:
How great was that??? Instead of what was certain to be 10 minutes of 2 people firing prewritten talking points back and forth (shouting them over each other, no doubt), Lemon just said no. Lemon said, “This is my show. My employers trust me to ask questions that the viewers need to hear answers to, and if you’re not going to answer them, then your airtime is over.” When Omarosa said, “you can’t ask the questions and answer them,” throwing it to commercial was Lemon’s way of saying, “Yes, but the answers you give are going to be to the questions I ask.”
When they came back from break, they resumed the conversation. It was a strong segment. Don asked questions, the two panelists answered them. There were a few instances of one person speaking over the other, but it wasn’t an all-out Animal House style food fight that many of these segments devolve into. Oh, and just for the record, before the segment was over, Omarosa got in the talking point she tried to lead with about PACs and Super PACs. It actually resonated better because it folded into the conversation.
Good job, Don Lemon! Way to hit the reset button to get the dialogue back on track. It was smooth. It was ballsy. It was the right thing to do. (I can’t imagine what he was hearing in his ear while this was happening)