Ed Driscoll

'It's Not About You the Interviewer'

“Jon Stewart Tries To Trap Don Rumsfeld By Showing How Smart He Is And Fails Miserably,” Drew M. writes at Ace of Spades:

Stewart actually tried his best to take the clown nose off at first. Starting with Rumsfeld’s quote about the dangers of mixing power and certainty is a reasonable starting point for the liberal critique of Bush/Rumsfeld/Iraq (not saying I agree with it, just looking at it from the outside). The problem begins when Stewart thinks he can box with Rumsfeld…he can’t. Rumsfeld has been doing this longer than Stewart has been alive and Stewart isn’t in the top 1,000 of toughest people Rumsfeld’s dealt with.

Stewart actually had a good question (again from the liberal)…why didn’t we see the doubt publicly that Rumsfeld claims (and documents) was present behind the scenes? The problem is, he never asks the question in that straight forward way. He lets Rumsfeld derail him over the word “sell” vs. “present” and a bunch of other minor quibbles. Stewart was so busy trying to figure out how to ask the perfect, legalistically inescapable question that would land banner headlines for him and possibly Rumsfeld in jail that he never just puts the question plainly to Rumsfeld.

One of the first things you need to remember when doing an interview is…it’s not about you the interviewer. It’s about getting an answer. Too often reporters and talk show hosts want to be the star and the smartest person in the room. They forget that being well informed and prepared while acting dumb (actually not so much dumb as just curious) can be a powerful weapon.

Stewart, along with “reporters” like Andrea Mitchell, also don’t just want an answer…they want the answer they think they should get, the one that will confirm their worldview and solidify their place in the media universe. That’s a tall order under the best of circumstances.

And Stewart at least isn’t shy about admitting it; recall his disappointed response after “setting that hook” didn’t allow him to “get” John Yoo a year ago. It occurred around the same time that Christiane Amanpour’s gotcha interview with Marc Thiessen, former chief speechwriter for President Bush went, if anything, even worse for someone who unlike Stewart actually holds herself out as a legacy media journalist: