I have something that I just have to share with you. Actually, several somethings. In fact, this was going to be one post, but it got far too long... so this will be one of two. And it's important, so pay attention.
MSNBC has a morning radio show called Morning Joe. The program is hosted by Joe Scarborough, Mika Brezinski, and Willie Geist. In the words of the website, the show "features interviews with top newsmakers and politicians and in-depth analysis of the day's biggest stories". Yesterday, Donald Trump was on the program. In case you haven't see the coverage of this, I want to tell you what happened.
First... one of the hosts asked Trump a question. Instead of answering the question, Trump started trumpeting his own agenda. Of course, we see this from politicians all the time. But this time, after repeated warnings, Joe Scarborough went to commercial.
Wait, I see from the expression on your face that you don't get it. So let me fill in some more information. Trump was not an invited guest or a scheduled guest, he called in on his own. Well, I suppose that's ok. His agenda certainly matches the show's programming.
And then he started talking. Well, that's ok too. He is a politician, we expect them to talk.
But that's where things changed.
You see, one of the hosts asked Trump a question -- which is the typical format for the show. Trump ignored the question, and continued with his own agenda. The host tried to repeat the question, and Trump just talked right over her. The host kept asking the question, Trump kept acting as if he'd been invited to say whatever he wanted.
And that's when the wonderful thing happened! Joe Scarborough told Trump he couldn't just talk, he had to let the hosts ask questions... and Trump kept talking. Scarborough threatened to go to break if Trump wouldn't quit talking... and Trump kept talking. So Scarborough said to the director or whoever - "Go to break". He had to say it a couple times, but the show went to a commercial break!!
Woo Hoo and Hubba Hubba!!!!
Surely I'm not the only one who gets tired of watching debates and interviews where the politicians won't answer the questions and won't quit talking, and won't follow the rules. These people are too old to be spanked... but some sort of discipline needs to be imposed, or we have chaos. To go off-air, to go to commercial break, when a politician won't follow the rules, is an excellent form of discipline, in my opinion.
I watch The Today Show most mornings, and I'm generally happy with the interviewing skills of the news anchors. But on more than one occasion I've stood there and shouted to the television - 'That's not what he asked', or 'That's not an answer', or 'Quit interrupting her'. Even the toughest interviewers can get walked on and pushed around by the person being interviewed.. and most often the pushy, non-cooperative interviewee is a politician. Politicians have enough opportunities to present their own agendas in their own ways.. when they are being interviewed, they should answer the questions being answered.
Yes, I know we had the recent incident where the moderator's questions were - well - really stupid, irrelevant and unimportant. But we all - including the politicians - know that most of the time, there's nothing wrong with the question. It's just that the politician wants to put his or her own spin on the topic. And let's be honest, sometimes the politician simply doesn't want to answer the question.
So let's get back to Morning Joe. I don't listen to this program. It's on earlier than I get up, and I don't listen to a lot of radio. But I just might start. Thanks to today's technology, I can access the broadcast of this show, any time I want. I like the idea of somebody who insists that the rules be followed, and who shows that there are consequences to not following those rules. I've seen the clip of incident with Trump a number of times, and I'm amazed at how many times Scarborough had to say "Go to Break" before it actually happened. But I suspect that the person in charge of doing whatever happens to make commercial breaks, was caught off guard and was taken by surprise. Or perhaps he thought Scarborough didn't mean it. But Scarborough did mean it. And the program went to commercial.
Now, in all fairness to Trump, I feel compelled to point out that he hung around. When the show returned to the air after the two minute commercial break, Trump was still there. He responded to the questions that were posed (in a fashion), and he quit speaking over the hosts. Not everyone would have done that. That doesn't mean he gets a free ride - I'm still going to hold him accountable for what he says (see my next post - The Trump Solution).
But I like the fact that this actually proves that Scarborough's approach was the right one. The media has taken a lot of heat, more so every year, it seems. But - all you media people - take note. You can present information to the public, without allowing yourself to be bullied and walked on by the person you're trying to interview.
Hmmm, I wonder if Joe Scarborough is interested in running for political office?
I wonder if he drinks tea? Well I do, and the kettle is whistling, so for now, I'm done.