In a recent interview in Sweden, Brandon Flowers, frontman for the band The Killers was ambushed about his faith. Flowers has been dragged into religious or political discussions in the past because he is a Mormon. Now, with fellow Mormon Mitt Romney running for President, interviews with The Killers often focus on religion and politics and occasionally discuss the music.
This time, Flowers was on Skavlan to promote The Killer’s recent album Battle Born. After a few cursory questions about the album, the lead interviewer (it looks like a panel discussion show) started asking Flowers about religion and politics. As one of the panelists put it, people don’t expect to find a religious person fronting a popular rock band and “wearing a leather jacket.” That this might be the result of narrow-minded stereotyping of Christians on her part does not seem to occur to the woman. Flowers dealt with the questions well, explaining that he understands the interest. This is all rather typical for a Brandon Flowers or The Killers interview, but this time, it was just the setup.
Flowers only found out the previous day that the show had invited Richard Dawkins, the world’s premiere atheist, on with Flowers. Within minutes of arriving on the stage, Dawkins had turned to Flowers and called the Book of Mormon an obvious fake and Joseph Smith a criminal and a charlatan. Regardless of what one thinks of Mormonism, Flowers was there to discuss the music and Dawkins was aggressively rude.
A stunned Flowers did well for the little we saw. Flowers might have held his own against Dawkins, but we don’t know because the show edited most of Flower’s responses out. They only left his first response accusing Dawkins of not doing enough research before attacking another’s faith. The response was fact-less, so by leaving only that response Flowers comes off as not knowing his own religion’s history. When the show returned, from commercial break I guess, the lead interviewer tells Flowers he must leave to set up with the band.
They used him as fodder for Dawkins, ignored his response, and then told him to shut up and sing. Worse, check out the comments at DigitalSpy or The Guardian articles on this interview. Most blame Flowers for not sticking to the music.
In light of this interview and recent debates, I suggest a new strategy for any Republican, libertarian, conservative, or faithful faced with granting an interview outside of center-right organizations: only do live. When interviews are pre-taped, they always make us look like idiots or cut our arguments in the editing room. (Ask Sarah Palin about that.) Live, they can’t edit. Sure, there is risk, but our ideas are better and our debate skills are battle born. (Ask Mitt Romney about that.) Live we have a chance others might actually hear what we have to say.