Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

“Ambush” Interviews

This article asks: “Have ambush interviews gone too far?”

I say No. The more the merrier. This article is talking about Bob Etheridge’s world-famous tantrum the other day. I never did see the YouTube video, and now I can’t find it anywhere. In any case, if he can’t take the heat he can get the fuck out of the kitchen.

Same with Rand Paul. He’s been taking Sarah Palin lessons and now he wants reporters to submit all of their questions in writing, ahead of time, instead of ambushing him during a press conference.

Sarah Palin, as you remember, was constantly getting ambushed by trick questions like “what do you think of the Bush Doctrine?” and “what newspapers do you read?” Don’t answer that! It’s a trap!

With everybody and his brother having a cell phone camera, every politician — everybody who’s famous — is likely to get “ambushed” as soon as they step out in public. Every mis-step, every faux pas, might get recorded, uploaded to the Internet and go viral. That’s the way it is. Get over it.

In 1991, those four L.A. thugs didn’t know anyone was looking (or videotaping) when they beat the shit out of Rodney King. There was a joke going around (or was it?) that L.A. Police Chief Darryl Gates wanted a three day waiting period before anyone could buy a camcorder.

And how much sympathy do you have for rock stars and Hollywood celebrities who keep having run-ins with the Paparazzi? “I want to be famous, I want to be a star, I’m important, get those fuckin’ cameras out of my face, wait, get my good side…”

Politicians are probably longing for those days when they could say one thing to a certain audience, then say the exact opposite to a different audience, and nobody ever found out. Those days aren’t coming back.

So, my take on ambush interviews is: Bring ‘em on! What say you?

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

It depends on how you actually define ambush. Celebrities and politicians put themselves in the public eye and can expect a certain amount of media attention. Candidates and public officials can expect questions about all sorts things.

A politician who refuses to talk to the media raises suspicions and intensifies the media's interest in confronting him or her about that, among other things. So if they have to resort to following the person out to their car or down a hallway to get a question or two answered, the pol asked for it.

But what about showing up at the pol's house and creating a gauntlet that has to be run anytime he or she arrives or leaves? What about a reporter sitting behind a public figure in a theater, pestering with questions during a show? I think those things are out of line.

OTOH, the public should know about and, sensibly, take a dim view of pols who require all questions to be submitted in advance or, even more outlandish, that certain questions the pol wants should be asked.

Re: Palin and Paul, their inability to deal well with fairly simple questions from reporters is only one of so many reasons the public should consider them unacceptable, I have to believe their supporters don't care what they know or don't know, or whether they make sense.

June 16, 2010 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I think if a journalist presents themselves as such, and has credentials all questions, are fair game. Where their asked is another story, when your with your kids or perhaps dinning, things like that, reporters should back off.
Now that ass clown Jesse Waters is no journalist, he's an in your face antagonist. Him not so much...

June 17, 2010 at 2:12 AM  
Anonymous kate said...

I'm accountable to the person who signs my paycheck. When that person asks me a question, I'd better have an answer, or be able to get an answer PDQ. When celebs and politicians put themselves in the public's eye, via their chosen "profession", and are more than willing to take the public's money to support themselves, then they have to expect media attention. They knew this going in.

Yes, there are inapropriate times to "ambush" a celeb or pol., but short of infringing on their personal space, or tresspassing on their personal property, I think they should willingly accomodate the public's interest. And especially politicians who are making the decisions that affect us. We have the right to know who they are, and where they stand on issues.

June 17, 2010 at 4:07 AM  
Blogger T. Paine said...

Got to agree with Anderson on this one. Well said on all points.

As for the link to the Etheridge assault:


June 17, 2010 at 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bit Confusing:
I heard the incident on CBS radio and it was a bit different from what they are showing on the Video. They get up in his face and he ask them several times who they are and who they represent and they refused to answer. Not till he got tough when they finally started talking.

As abusive as the press can be there are still rules to this and one of them is introducing themselves before asking questions.

He did go overboard.

Now he's made heroes out of some hacks.


June 17, 2010 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: I agree that some of these ambushes are inappropriate, like the 2 examples you gave. But they're a fact of life for public figures. I don't have a lot of sympathy for somebody who gets yelled at or roughed up because they got up in somebody's face, but it could be a career-ender for politicians (like Etheridge in this case) if they over-react. They're gonna have to deal with a rude public or find another line of work, IMHO.

Tim: I agree some of these journalists, or fake journalists, are assclowns. But they're a fact of life for politicians, so they might as well get used to it.

Kate: I agree. Celebs and politicians who want all the fame without having to deal with the side effects -- pushy reporters, photographers -- get no sympathy from me. Even if it involves trespassing or other inappropriate behavior, over-reacting could have a devastating result for the over-reactor. That's true for politicians especially; not so much for other celebrities in general. I doubt if anyone will boycott Sean Penn's movies just because he decked another photographer. But for an elected politician, it's a different story.

TP: Thanks for the link. I did a YouTube search for Etheridge, but all I found was a bunch of articles about the incident, but no video.

Erik: I don't have sympathy for anyone involved in that incident. But like it or not, Etheridge's career might be over, and those "journalists" or whoever they were, can just go on with their lives like nothing happened.

June 17, 2010 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

I agree with SW. A nekked reporter popping out of a cake at a party goes too far.

June 19, 2010 at 9:36 AM  

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