If you follow my blog, you know I’m often critical of talk-show hosts who fail to ask obvious follow-up questions.
In their defense, it’s easy for me to listen to a recording of an interview, ponder it, do research, and then say how stupid they were for not thinking of a follow-up question that took me a half hour to formulate.
Here’s an example of the kind of follow-up question that you wouldn’t expect an interviewer to ask on the spot, because it’s based on obscure information, even if it’s readily available from Google.
I’ll lay it out here, not to criticize the interviewer, but to have it on the public record so other journalists can draw on it in future interviews.
On 9News/Channel 20’s YourShow airing Aug. 7, Rep. Mike Coffman told YourShow host Matt Flener that secret negotiations between House leadership and the White House should be seen as a necessary part of the legislative process:
Coffman: “… The Speaker of the House would go to the White House, as well as the majority leader — sit down the president, sit down with the vice president. They would come to some tentative agreement, in terms of direction. Then they would come back, and behind closed doors, we would have input at that point. … You have to have to a limited group of people — you can’t have, you know, 435 people in a negotiation from the House of Representatives, you know, with the Senate or the White House. And so, I thought the process worked pretty well.”
But back in January of last year, when Coffman’s party was in the minority and squeezed out of the negotiations like House Democrats are now, he was so mad about Democrats’ health-care negotiations that he felt the need to blast out his displeasure in a news release praising a House resolution demanding that all meetings “to determine the content” of the health care bill be conducted in public:
Coffman: “It is appalling that negotiations on a bill which will impact one-sixth of our nation’s economy, and every American, would be brokered behind closed doors rather than in the light of day.”
If you followed the health-care debate, you know that one of the GOP’s major criticisms wasn’t about the substance of the legislation but the alleged secrecy of the drafting of the bill.
This GOP attack-line was all over the news, so Coffman’s praise of legislative secrecy would be expected to raise an eyebrow, once the hypocrisy of it sinks in, especially in light of his news release above.
Next time, if he, or any Republican for that matter, defends secret negotiations again, reporters should ask what gives.
See the segment of the interview in question here: Mike Coffman on YourShow, Channel 20, Aug. 4, 2011
(YourShow, which features weekly interviews with public figures, actively seeks topic and question ideas from viewers. Follow the show on social media of email firstname.lastname@example.org and get involved.)