The snarky questioner

One memory of last week hanging out with John Edwards was him being interviewed by about a dozen news crews at 5 a.m. in the morning. I listened to his answers — I couldn’t hear the questions, because he had an earphone in his ear where you could hear the questions coming in.

One guy brought a reaction after the lights were off. Edwards told his staff something like George was snarky — gave him weird questions that were trying to throw him off. I told Edwards that I couldn’t tell from his answers, which shows how well prepared he is for different interview styles. It’s why I didn’t ask hard questions — I know these people are well trained by their staffs to always give “presidential answers.”

It is interesting, though, that the staff decided to accept an invitation from George Stephanopoulos to be on his Sunday morning show. He was George, the snarky questioner.

George’s Sunday morning interview is online now. Hey, if you watch the video, you’ll see another name that’s familar to us all: Amanda Congdon.

Interesting that the snarkiness was gone in this interview. I wonder if he was doing that just to test Edwards to see if he could hold up to pressure?

Comments

  1. It’s why I didn’t ask hard questions — I know these people are well trained by their staffs to always give “presidential answers.”

    That doesn’t seem like solid justification. Joanne over at Rocketboom took some heat for not asking probing questions.

    Isn’t the follow-up question the remedy to the presidential answer.

  2. It’s why I didn’t ask hard questions — I know these people are well trained by their staffs to always give “presidential answers.”

    That doesn’t seem like solid justification. Joanne over at Rocketboom took some heat for not asking probing questions.

    Isn’t the follow-up question the remedy to the presidential answer.

  3. Bob: the problem is in 10 minutes you don’t get much time to do follow-up questions.

    One other thing: in this interview George says he heard that Edwards got boos on his answer on Gay Marriage in New Hampshire. That is TOTALLY FALSE. I think that’s George trying to spin something. Shows the power of an interviewer to try to make something sound different than it actually was.

  4. Bob: the problem is in 10 minutes you don’t get much time to do follow-up questions.

    One other thing: in this interview George says he heard that Edwards got boos on his answer on Gay Marriage in New Hampshire. That is TOTALLY FALSE. I think that’s George trying to spin something. Shows the power of an interviewer to try to make something sound different than it actually was.

  5. Stephanopoulos also said:

    OK, well, that’s what I read. We can go back to the videotape.

    So, let’s find the video to confirm it. I haven’t a clue.

    The thing is, Edwards said the same thing over and over to dozens of outlets. If one doesn’t work to distinguish himself, how is it any different then when Fox, CNN, or anyone else reported that he was running for president?

  6. Stephanopoulos also said:

    OK, well, that’s what I read. We can go back to the videotape.

    So, let’s find the video to confirm it. I haven’t a clue.

    The thing is, Edwards said the same thing over and over to dozens of outlets. If one doesn’t work to distinguish himself, how is it any different then when Fox, CNN, or anyone else reported that he was running for president?

  7. Bob: every interview was different. There were common themes, yes, but that’s cause the questions were the same. How many different ways are you going to answer “what’s your stance on the war in Iraq?”

    I don’t need to look at the video. I was there.

  8. Bob: every interview was different. There were common themes, yes, but that’s cause the questions were the same. How many different ways are you going to answer “what’s your stance on the war in Iraq?”

    I don’t need to look at the video. I was there.

  9. Bob: I don’t get your question. I heard him asked hundreds of questions, but there were several that came up consistently. Health care. War. Poverty. Gay marriage.

  10. Bob: I don’t get your question. I heard him asked hundreds of questions, but there were several that came up consistently. Health care. War. Poverty. Gay marriage.

  11. ALso, the reason he gave so many interviews is that audiences have split into hundreds of different places. No one watches just one or two channels anymore. It’s a world of niches, so a candidate must speak to as many of these niches as absolutely possible.

    Most niches are concerned about the same thing. But someone who reads Daily KOS might not watch Fox News. So, a candidate needs to speak to both Daily KOS and Fox. Not to mention meeting with thousands of bloggers over the course of a two-year-run.

  12. ALso, the reason he gave so many interviews is that audiences have split into hundreds of different places. No one watches just one or two channels anymore. It’s a world of niches, so a candidate must speak to as many of these niches as absolutely possible.

    Most niches are concerned about the same thing. But someone who reads Daily KOS might not watch Fox News. So, a candidate needs to speak to both Daily KOS and Fox. Not to mention meeting with thousands of bloggers over the course of a two-year-run.

  13. Fair enough . . . having seen lots of the coverage and little of it differentiated, I found both your comments and Joanne’s did not serve your audience.

  14. Fair enough . . . having seen lots of the coverage and little of it differentiated, I found both your comments and Joanne’s did not serve your audience.

  15. Given what you all have said so far, I wonder if the snarkiness of some interviewers comes more from the interviewer being bored of asking the same sorts of questions over and over. The interviewer may be asking snarky questions just simply to entertain his/herself.

    I would never do that, though. I like to keep my vlog interviews very austere and serious as a way to show respect.

  16. Given what you all have said so far, I wonder if the snarkiness of some interviewers comes more from the interviewer being bored of asking the same sorts of questions over and over. The interviewer may be asking snarky questions just simply to entertain his/herself.

    I would never do that, though. I like to keep my vlog interviews very austere and serious as a way to show respect.

  17. Bob: you haven’t seen my interviews and videos yet. Let’s talk again after you hear those to see if I served my audience well. They should be up by tomorrow afternoon.

  18. Bob: you haven’t seen my interviews and videos yet. Let’s talk again after you hear those to see if I served my audience well. They should be up by tomorrow afternoon.

  19. Heather: that’s possible. Some other possible reasons:

    1) Positioning. If you are consistently snarky, some audience members appreciate that you are being difficult to candidates.
    2) Bad day. Your wife might have just filed for divorce and so you take it out on an interview subject. Or you might have hit a pothole, gotten a flat tire, which makes you cynical about government (or worse, your relative’s house could have gotten flooded in Katrina).
    3) Goading from audience or coworkers. Ever have someone tell you “all you do is ask softballs?” I have. It increases the urge to ask snarkier, tougher questions next time so you can say “there you go.”
    4) Snubbed by PR crew. This happens a lot. A press guy gets snubbed. Left out of an important event. Not given an interview that his/her competition got. So the journalist gets “revenge.”

  20. Heather: that’s possible. Some other possible reasons:

    1) Positioning. If you are consistently snarky, some audience members appreciate that you are being difficult to candidates.
    2) Bad day. Your wife might have just filed for divorce and so you take it out on an interview subject. Or you might have hit a pothole, gotten a flat tire, which makes you cynical about government (or worse, your relative’s house could have gotten flooded in Katrina).
    3) Goading from audience or coworkers. Ever have someone tell you “all you do is ask softballs?” I have. It increases the urge to ask snarkier, tougher questions next time so you can say “there you go.”
    4) Snubbed by PR crew. This happens a lot. A press guy gets snubbed. Left out of an important event. Not given an interview that his/her competition got. So the journalist gets “revenge.”

  21. I am not asking for snarky. The man is running for president; he deserves to be taken seriously. But yes, softballs are what I see about. I look forward to your video, Robert.

    It wasn’t unknown what the event was. So, questioning him more thoroughly on perhaps one specific issue would have gotten him off his talking points.

  22. I am not asking for snarky. The man is running for president; he deserves to be taken seriously. But yes, softballs are what I see about. I look forward to your video, Robert.

    It wasn’t unknown what the event was. So, questioning him more thoroughly on perhaps one specific issue would have gotten him off his talking points.

  23. Hi Robert, I’d like to further draw your attention towards the reality of Second Life, especially if your son is playing it. See, e.g., http://www.somethingawful.com/index.php?a=4230 :

    “Publications like the New York Times ignore the rank, semen-stained underbelly of Second Life, perhaps because so much of it is unprintable.”

    Furries are why we can’t have nice things in online games.

  24. Hi Robert, I’d like to further draw your attention towards the reality of Second Life, especially if your son is playing it. See, e.g., http://www.somethingawful.com/index.php?a=4230 :

    “Publications like the New York Times ignore the rank, semen-stained underbelly of Second Life, perhaps because so much of it is unprintable.”

    Furries are why we can’t have nice things in online games.

  25. Warren: my son hasn’t been on Second Life (and neither have I) ever since Linden Labs asked him not to be there anymore. But, I was well aware of the sex side of Second Life.

    Keep in mind that my son visited Whitehouse.com (a porn site) when he was seven years old.

  26. Warren: my son hasn’t been on Second Life (and neither have I) ever since Linden Labs asked him not to be there anymore. But, I was well aware of the sex side of Second Life.

    Keep in mind that my son visited Whitehouse.com (a porn site) when he was seven years old.

  27. I’ve always loved the word Snarky. Getting accused of being snarky would be a compliment in my book … even better, if I was called “snarkilicious”, I would probably give that person a hug.

    As corny as Edwards is though, I doubt he’d ever call someone snarkilicious… too bad, if he did I’d probably vote for him ;)

  28. I’ve always loved the word Snarky. Getting accused of being snarky would be a compliment in my book … even better, if I was called “snarkilicious”, I would probably give that person a hug.

    As corny as Edwards is though, I doubt he’d ever call someone snarkilicious… too bad, if he did I’d probably vote for him ;)

  29. Anita: I hire snarky people (Irina and Christopher) so I guess I would agree!

    Heheheh, I’m going to send that to the Edwards’ campaign. You have no idea the lengths to which politicans will go to get votes! :-)

  30. Anita: I hire snarky people (Irina and Christopher) so I guess I would agree!

    Heheheh, I’m going to send that to the Edwards’ campaign. You have no idea the lengths to which politicans will go to get votes! :-)

  31. This is barely week one of a fourteen or fifteen month campaign to get the nomination. I think all candidates deserve a shot at making their pitch without excessive pounding. Trust that the pounding will come.

    My POV: sending Robert into the fray to ask yet another set of variations on the same questions that everyone from town hall citizens to battle-hardened poltical reporters are asking serves no useful purpose.

    What Robert can uniquely report on is what others may miss because they lack his unique perspective, experience, and knowledge about social media, blogging, and unmediated conversation.

    I’m not looking for Robert to be a better Sam Donaldson, Chris Matthews, Seymour Hersh, or Dan Balz. I’m looking for him to be the best Robert Scoble he can be.

    Here’s what Edwards has set out to do: his intention is to communicate directly, openly, candidly without the cagey spin and carefully crafted talking points that have so degraded political disourse in this country.

    Robert has a trained crap detector that can tell the difference between managed monologues and real conversation. What I’d like to hear from him is whether Edwards or any other candidate trigger is smoke alarm.

  32. This is barely week one of a fourteen or fifteen month campaign to get the nomination. I think all candidates deserve a shot at making their pitch without excessive pounding. Trust that the pounding will come.

    My POV: sending Robert into the fray to ask yet another set of variations on the same questions that everyone from town hall citizens to battle-hardened poltical reporters are asking serves no useful purpose.

    What Robert can uniquely report on is what others may miss because they lack his unique perspective, experience, and knowledge about social media, blogging, and unmediated conversation.

    I’m not looking for Robert to be a better Sam Donaldson, Chris Matthews, Seymour Hersh, or Dan Balz. I’m looking for him to be the best Robert Scoble he can be.

    Here’s what Edwards has set out to do: his intention is to communicate directly, openly, candidly without the cagey spin and carefully crafted talking points that have so degraded political disourse in this country.

    Robert has a trained crap detector that can tell the difference between managed monologues and real conversation. What I’d like to hear from him is whether Edwards or any other candidate trigger is smoke alarm.

  33. Michael: I saw hundreds of conversations. But even conversations can turn into monologues. Albeit short ones. Edwards is VERY adept at giving you answers to every question.

  34. Michael: I saw hundreds of conversations. But even conversations can turn into monologues. Albeit short ones. Edwards is VERY adept at giving you answers to every question.

  35. Robert has a trained crap detector that can tell the difference between managed monologues and real conversation.

    Is this the standard we used to when viewing Robert’s video?

  36. Robert has a trained crap detector that can tell the difference between managed monologues and real conversation.

    Is this the standard we used to when viewing Robert’s video?

  37. Stephanopoulos came out of the Clinton machine. I don’t know what he owes Hillary today. He knows where bodies are buried, though, so they’ve got to keep him somewhat close.

    This might have something to do with the actual tenor of the questions, or it might have something to do with the perception of snark in the questions.

  38. Stephanopoulos came out of the Clinton machine. I don’t know what he owes Hillary today. He knows where bodies are buried, though, so they’ve got to keep him somewhat close.

    This might have something to do with the actual tenor of the questions, or it might have something to do with the perception of snark in the questions.

  39. It’s also because US media has become notoriously lazy, when asking questions. Watch your favourite Sunday talk show, then listen to BBC Radio4′s Today Programme, Hardtalk, or Newsnight and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

  40. It’s also because US media has become notoriously lazy, when asking questions. Watch your favourite Sunday talk show, then listen to BBC Radio4′s Today Programme, Hardtalk, or Newsnight and you’ll see exactly what I mean.