But in the back of my mind, I had a question that would be rather confrontive. "The wording about a blockade may not be in there, but how can you assume it won't be used. Isn't that the kind of thinking that led so many democrats to support the original resolution that Bush used to go to war?" It wasn't the only question. There were a lot of them I could have asked.
But I didn't ask it. I didn't have much time left. David was waiting on the phone. I had more questions I wanted to ask and so I moved on.
After the interview, I called Cheryl. She was frustrated too.
I asked her why she didn't ask the question. She explained she didn't want to interrupt and saw I was moving on. I pointed out that she could have asked. But, almost as I said it, I felt guilty. I was the host and she was a caller, well sort of. (I am experimenting with the idea of having invited, temporary co-hosts who are writers with expertise in the area to raise the level of discussion and smarten up my expertise. It's clear that it's an idea that needs fine-tuning, with some instructions to the temporary co-hosts on persisting with their questions.)
I woke up thinking there was another option—an alternative to us both being frustrated. And when I checked my Blackberry, I found an email expressing frustration that Cheryl had written me at 3:02 AM.
I'm a multimedia kind of guy. The radio show I do is an extension and outgrowth of the writing I do-- for OpEdNews.com and the Huffingtonpost. The way I see it, the conversation with congressman Wexler doesn't have to be over.
I believe that he went into the interview with good faith, as did I.
But now I can see just how tough it is, for an MSM journalist to drill down and follow up on answers by interview subjects who don't nail the issue on their first answer. I had half an hour. Most people on MSNBC, CNN, etc. have a few minutes and a producer whispering in their ear moving them along. They have a tight schedule and no room to ask that extra question, which the interviewee may or may not answer directly and straightforwardly, which either way could add two, three or more minutes to a time slot that doesn’t allow for that extra time.
So what's a frustrated interviewer to do when there's not enough time, when other questions are pressing and the REAL question hasn't been asked, the REAL answer hasn't been reached? I mean, I've been furious with interviewers for doing what I did. And here, I was DOING it.
Now part of my thinking was that this was a really confrontive question and I wanted to maintain a relationship with Wexler, to be able to interview him on the radio show or for articles again. You don't get TOO in a persons face and stay cordial. But there was also the consideration whether I'd get a real answer or a less than direct answer-- anywhere from a total evasion to a long-winded answer that would eat up a lot more minutes without dealing with the real issue. Politicians are masters at that.
I have to stop for a moment and allow myself to be distracted. Richard Belzer's dog (I just met Belzer AND his dog at the Personal Democracy forum on Tuesday) just threw up on Mika, on the Morning Joe Show. They're standing around talking about vomit. reaching millions. And look at me, flagellating myself over not asking a question.
Okay. I'm done laughing at the puke commentary. Now we know Mika's dog throws up all the time. Thanks for that Mika. Okay, so now I'm really, done talking about dog vomit... I think. We can get back to talking about media vomit—you know, when interviewees give weak or disingenuous or evasive answers and the hosts just give them a pass.
I was talking about not having gotten the questions answered, my own personal experience with media vomit, about waking up before dawn, being upset about it, and finally, about an idea I had for a solution.
There's another way—a way that is really easy and that can even turn out to be GREAT for the broadcast media.
I decided to contact Rep. Wexler’s chief of staff and tell him about our frustration and how it would be great if we could get another shot at a follow-up question. He agreed to do it.
I talked it over with Cheryl… a lot. We discussed a whole lot of the ramifications of the question, Wexler’s issues with Jewish constituents, his support for liberal causes—and Cheryl came back, after doing a ton of research, with four questions. I had my one question and I whittled away two of Cheryl’s questions because I didn’t want to take too much advantage of Wexler’s good will and ask that he write us a whole report.