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There was a blatant episode recently that exemplifies how deteriorated our press has become. The immediate disclosure to the world that the Hamas propaganda machine blamed Israelis for a hospital bombing in Gaza – in reality, the hospital parking lot — and the killing of 500 people – which was actually 50. These irresponsible reports spread a blood libel that gave justification for riots throughout the world and the cancellation of meetings with President Biden. But that is just a small sample of the distortion done on a regular basis by the legacy media.
Meet the Press, one of TV’s most iconic news programs, transitioned to a new host on September 17th. That morning saw Kristen Welker anchor her first show after succeeding long-time host, Chuck Todd. It would be easy to take the position that it would be Tweedle-dee, Tweedle-dum. But in the spirit of writing this column and being part of the journalist world, I committed to giving her a shot.
She was able to book former President Donald Trump for her first show, no question a big “get.” Trump is difficult to watch as a guest because of his repetitive rhetoric and chest pounding, so watching was indeed a commitment. He was a prince compared to her. It wasn’t just that she dripped with disdain for Trump. That would be expected since she is aligned with the left-wing press. The questioning was truly atrocious and lacked any professional standards.
Let’s lay down some ground rules for a good interview. A good interviewer asks open-ended questions and then listens to the answers. If appropriate, directed questions might be asked based on the interviewee’s responses. These are called “follow-up” questions which can be extremely newsworthy if used correctly. For example, “Mr. Trump, you just stated that you believe in further building the wall on the Southern border. You only accomplished part of your stated goal in your first term. What are you going to do differently to make that happen?” Again, an open-ended question with a more defined scope.
I know you might be thinking I am out of my mind because it’s been years since you have seen much of that. Some people still manage that journalistic trait. I used to regularly watch Tucker who asked questions and then let the interviewee talk while he remained silent. Stuart Varney (Fox Business) does that most of the time. Bari Weiss does a really good interview and so does Dennis Prager on their respective platforms.
Back to Welker. She started off by asking Trump a fair question because he had used the word “retribution” regarding his legal troubles and charges against him. Then five minutes into the interview she says to Trump, “I want to hear from you, I want to hear what’s in your head, when you go to bed at night, do you worry about going to jail?” Is that a question to ask a former President? Did she think she was interviewing someone on one of NBC’s newsmagazine shows?
Trump launches into one of his winding defensives, but a coherent defense of his position. He then says “they” went to the AG of the United States and told them to indict him. Instead of asking Trump what evidence he has of that, she says “There is just no evidence of that.” Or how about who is the “they” to which he referred? Instead, she chose to debate him. That is only six minutes into the show.
After Trump provides his defense, she interrupts him to tell him she wants to focus on him. Then she actually asks an open-ended question.” What do you see when you look at your mug shot?” Charming. Then she asks him about his lawyers. “Some of your outside lawyers you said they had crazy theories, why were you listening to them?” OK, half a good question. She does not specify who she is speaking about, but it is an open-ended question. Before Trump can answer she asks, “Were you listening to them because they were telling you what you wanted to hear?”
She then switches the subject to abortion and asks him a loaded question about the subject. He gives a winding but coherent answer to the question and turns the tables, accusing the Democrats of wanting late-term abortions and citing Hillary Clinton. Her response was, “That is not part of anyone’s argument. Democrats don’t want that.” Trump repeated the assertion, and she then again said, “Democrats don’t want that.”
She is now in a full-out debate with him. She is asserting a position on behalf his political rivals. At 22 minutes into the show, I had enough. Why do I need to listen to someone who is not practicing journalism? She is a political advocate.
If you think I am just taking on the Left of Center Legacy Media, I am not. Fox News Sunday hosted by Shannon Bream did a deep dive into America’s crime explosion America on October 28th. She had on Eric Johnson, the mayor of Dallas. She obviously gets major credit for having him on since the other shows won’t as he left the Democrat Party and became a Republican. He gave a clear definition of why he made the change and explained that crime stops with mayors and police chiefs. He deserves credit for stating the buck stops with him as Mayor. But there was an obvious follow-up question she neglected to ask — regarding errant district attorneys not enforcing the laws and charging the criminals. Police Chiefs can only do so much. The absence of this key questioning shows the often poor quality of these interviews.
It is not only Welker’s interview of Trump. I watched her “interview” of Congresswoman Jayapal on October 29th, with Welker not willing to counter or question Jayapal’s position for a humanitarian ceasefire. I see how she is going to go in the remainder of her term. Softballs to Democrats, arguing with Republicans.
This is not journalism, and that is why our country holds the press in such low esteem.
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