Challenging Bush.
June 26, 2004 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Challenging Bush. The White House has thrown a bit of a tantrum over Irish reporter Carole Coleman's confrontational approach to interviewing the president (watch the interview here or here). No-one's allowed to interrupt him any more, apparently.
posted by ascullion (77 comments total)

I saw that interview, and although it was interesting to see Bush getting an all-too-rare rattling (are American journalists very sycophantic with the President usually?) the fact she pissed him off meant she didn't glean anything interesting from him that a more subtle approach could have.
posted by Celery at 3:13 PM on June 26, 2004

are American journalists very sycophantic with the President usually?

posted by rushmc at 3:15 PM on June 26, 2004

I see this interview style all the time with British reports and many Eurpopeans. The quick question to keep the person from going off track and avoiding the question is pretty common. The difference, other than our cowed media, is that American reporters don't usually do this to the President. They let him give out his talking points and then they ask their pre-approved questions. Over and over.
posted by skallas at 3:15 PM on June 26, 2004

I'm all for the tough questions, but she interrupted the hell out of him. It's one thing to ruefully corner him into admitting something he'd rather not -- it's quite another to act like an uncivilized git and talk over a country's president when the answers he's giving you aren't the ones you want to hear.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:22 PM on June 26, 2004

It's not that his answers weren't what she wanted to hear, it's that they weren't actually answers to questions she had asked. She said that the world was more dangerous after the Iraq invasion and occupation, citing increased terrorism, and he replies with something about the calm weather on September 11th. WTF, mate?
posted by Space Coyote at 3:28 PM on June 26, 2004

Now now. They're having a bad year. You'd get testy/potty-mouthed in their place too.
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:36 PM on June 26, 2004

Where can I get just the bit with the interview? Or, how far foward should I jump to see the interview?
posted by Grod at 3:40 PM on June 26, 2004


All these links need registration.
posted by silusGROK at 3:54 PM on June 26, 2004

he can't function off the script. it's sad.
posted by amberglow at 3:57 PM on June 26, 2004

posted by 40 Watt at 3:59 PM on June 26, 2004

Space - the point he's making in re: 9.11 seems pretty obvious. The reasoning is that the relative quiet (in terms of terrorism) before the invasion of Iraq doesn't indicate that terrorism has been lessened or that the world is a safer place.

Her interruptions struck me as decidedly childish. I don't talk to people that do that to me, why should the prez? Is it not possible to discuss incredibly important things without resorting to breaking the train of thought of our opponent?

Would you really be pleased if O'Reilly did this to Kerry? It's obnoxious, fatuous, and an impediment to real debate.
posted by kavasa at 4:12 PM on June 26, 2004

Grod: the interview starts roughly 20 minutes in..
posted by Dn at 4:16 PM on June 26, 2004

Is there a better format in which to view the video?
posted by the fire you left me at 4:22 PM on June 26, 2004

Civil_Disobedient: I'm sorry, but if a patronising prick refuses to answer the questions that he's asked, then I don't see any problem in stopping him from self-promoting. He was asked a question about Israel, so he started to talk about Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan anything but Israel. He may now know the name of the Pakistan president, but he doesn't seem to have spotted that Pakistan is ruled by a miltary junta.

The whole way that Bush treated the interview suggested that he thought the interviewer should just be grateful that he had honoured her with his presence and that she should let him say whatever it was that had been prepared for him. He was exceptionally arrogant and patronising and managed to worsen my opinion of him. You really should be ashamed that someone like that can be the president of your country. This isn't an anti-republican thing, I've always had the greatest respect for his father and before that Reagan (although I can't say I agreed with all of their policies).

"I don't chase popularity polls": George W Bush - ha ha ha ha ha ha

on preview: kavasa - the problem is that in the US politicians never engage in debate, questions like that are what makes debate, they aren't an impediment. All they do is spout whatever preprepared crap they have. Debate would require that they engage their brain and contemplate the possibility that they might be wrong. You must have a different definition for fatuous as well, because in no way was the interview fatuous.
posted by daveg at 4:24 PM on June 26, 2004

Sorry - the second link above goes straight to the interview.

Indymedia Ireland posted an MP3 of the interview on their site, if that helps anyone.
posted by ascullion at 4:27 PM on June 26, 2004

40 Watt: That thing is incredibly helpful! Thankya.
posted by fillsthepews at 4:50 PM on June 26, 2004

I'm sorry, but if a patronising prick refuses to answer the questions that he's asked, then I don't see any problem in stopping him from self-promoting.

No, if a patronizing prick refuses to answer the questions, you call the motherraper on it. There are interviewing tactics that can corner someone into answering the question you ask. If they still refuse (as GWB is notorious for) then you just say, "Ok, so it seems like you don't want to answer that question," to which you would undoubtedly get the asinine reply, "I think I already answered that question." Then you've got them on the defensive, whereby you respond, "No, I asked you about Israel, not Pakistan, not Turkey, not Afghanistan. Israel."

It's incredibly bad form when the interviewer starts interrupting. Resorting to the tactics of Rush Limbaugh or Chris Matthews only wastes time -- instead of Q&A you get a sanctimonius asshat explaining why it's rude to interrupt people.

I realize our President is infuriatingly obtuse; but then, nobody said journalism was easy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:23 PM on June 26, 2004

uppish sums it up:
...Reporter: Moving on, Mr. President....

Bush: Let me finish! How many times do I have to tell you how to do your job? See, I gotta insult France at least once. Then I gotta claim 'merica to be the most generous nation in the whole wide world, even though it's not true. And listen, let me mention that democracy in Pakistan, too. And guess what? I'm the first president to ever call for a Palestinian state and I'm damn proud of it - just look at the size of my smirk now. Listen, as long as I keep repeating myself and mouthing empty platitudes, you won't have a chance to call me on any of the bullshit coming out of my mouth.

posted by amberglow at 5:37 PM on June 26, 2004

Ms. Coleman is my hero. CNN showed the interview yesterday afternoon and I saw it just after getting home from seeing Fahrenheit 9/11. She had a lot of courage to stand up to him and attempt to get him to answer her questions. I only wish our media had the guts to do that.

Bush has been using that "let me finish. you ask me a question and i'll answer it and then you can ask me another one a lot lately."

We get it: the terrorists hate freedom. Now answer the damn questions.
posted by birdherder at 5:47 PM on June 26, 2004

That was supposed to be a confrontational interview? Hahahahahaha.

The interviewer asks supplemental questions in what are quite clearly pauses and opputunities. On two occasions, Bush comes to a grinding halt, and Carole asks another question, and Bush *decides* he hadn't finished. Does he hold conversations like this, expecting the other party to doff their cap, and only speak when spoken to, like he was the fucking queen talking to a servant?

He comes across as smug and big-headded - and incapable of thinking on his feet - only able to read rigidly from an internal script and grandstand.

I'd love to see him interviewed by Paxman or Tim Sebastian. I think he'd pee his pants. They'd be bombing Broadcasting House before the evening was out.

Behaviour like axing the Laura Bush interview, only confirms my impression that Bush et al want to be shielded from the consequences of their actions (beautifully encapsulated by Laura Bush's oblivious dismissal of the possibility of protests in London, because she been shielded from any such distasteful scenes). There seem to be a lot of modern-day leaders acting more like the French aristocracy than acting like the democratic representatives they're supposed to be.

Cancelling the interview makes the American government look thin-skinned and huffy.
posted by Blue Stone at 6:55 PM on June 26, 2004

... and afraid.
posted by Blue Stone at 6:57 PM on June 26, 2004

Listen to interview here.
posted by kodas at 8:01 PM on June 26, 2004


American White House reporters, take note: Coleman has more balls than all of you put together.
posted by xmutex at 8:05 PM on June 26, 2004

Brilliant. Bush. The American President:

Bush on Saturday twice had trouble figuring out what day it was.

At a news conference following the U.S.-European Union summit, Bush first said he was traveling on to Turkey on Sunday to meet with leaders of NATO nations.

"Tomorrow I will travel to Turkey for the NATO summit," he said. "Actually, today I will travel to Turkey. Tomorrow is the NATO summit."

Later, he repeated his blunder — still not getting the schedule right.

"As I said tomorrow I'm going to go to Turkey for the NATO summit," he said. "Today I'm going to Turkey. Tomorrow's the summit."

If it's Saturday, Mr. President, it must be Ireland (during the day) and Turkey (at night).

posted by fold_and_mutilate at 8:10 PM on June 26, 2004

I don't think the reporter was out of line. I'm judging from the mp3, so I haven't seen the video to be able to judge body language...which may change the way the viewer reacts to the interview.

But, I tell ya, Bush came off to me like that idiot MBA in every office that you have to work *around* to get anything done.

His constant use of "Listen..." to start every other sentence is annoying and bespeaks to me someone who doesn't expect their message to be believed. It's like when people start sentences with "To be completely frank...", you know they're about to lie.

I love the "people willing to kill to stop the advance of freedom..." from Bush when we didn't even count the number of civilians that we've killed.

The Israel questions...he danced like Astaire, didn't he?

The canceling of the Mrs. interview seems petty and makes the First Family look less than capable of that's a secret.
posted by dejah420 at 9:11 PM on June 26, 2004

I've no experience of Ireland, but I've noticed that UK reporters are rather less tolerant of evasions than their American counterparts, and the respectable ones tend to be better informed as well; more likely to realize that the real question isn't being answered and keep coming back to it when an American reporter would move on.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:21 PM on June 26, 2004

There's nothing to debate here, it's all in the lead of the II article. You ask the wrong kinds of questions, and Bush shuts you out. No more press conference questions for you, no more interviews for you, you're done.

As much as I like to whip the media's ass into shape, I don't think it's necessarily all their fault on this count.


THE White House has lodged a complaint with the Irish Embassy in Washington over RTE journalist Carole Coleman's interview with US President George Bush.

And it is believed the President's staff have now withdrawn from an exclusive interview which was to have been given to RTE this morning by First Lady Laura Bush.

posted by scarabic at 10:19 PM on June 26, 2004

are American journalists very sycophantic with the President usually?

Only since 2001. It's about time Dubya got reminded that not all journalists in the world can be thrown off subject by a wave of the American flag or the threat of limited access in the future.
posted by clevershark at 10:45 PM on June 26, 2004

You don't even have to be speaking directly to Bush to make him angry and unresponsive. Apparently all you have to do is speak in French to Jacques Chirac.
posted by clevershark at 10:49 PM on June 26, 2004

Personally, I think this lady is pretty f*cking annoying.
posted by cinderful at 12:52 AM on June 27, 2004

She was clearly playing the troll. Now the victim. Poor, poor muzzled Carole.
posted by shoos at 1:15 AM on June 27, 2004

That David Gregory sounds like a prick himself.
posted by shoos at 1:26 AM on June 27, 2004

She was clearly playing the troll. Now the victim. Poor, poor muzzled Carole.

Yes anything but cowtowing by an non-american reporter is "trolling"; from an american reporter it's treason.

Who cares about a journalist actually getting information out to her viewers? The important thing is to spread the propaganda efficiently.

The only person playing victim here is Bush.
posted by sic at 2:49 AM on June 27, 2004


posted by shoos at 4:08 AM on June 27, 2004

Yes anything but interrupting and talking over the responses of your interviewee is "cowtowing". Who cares about journalists actually having some ethics and... I dare say, civility in their dogged pursuit of the truth.

Look, we all know Bush is a liar. It takes someone with real skill to bring it out of him. Funny thing is, Bush tends to do the worst with interviewers who practically hold his hand throughout the interview. He gets into this state of overconfidence and speaks off the cuff to his later regret.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:14 AM on June 27, 2004

After listening (missed the body language) I thought Bush actually was very curteous in the manner in which he dealt with the interruptions when he was given his time to speak.

I don't think it was a good interview: what kind of question begins with (paraphrasing) "the world is a more dangerous place" and then expects the interviewee to not refute that when it is obviously his ordained position that this premise is not true?

Sidebar: I can not believe that man is President of the United States of America.
posted by Dick Paris at 4:48 AM on June 27, 2004

His constant use of "Listen..." to start every other sentence is annoying and bespeaks to me someone who doesn't expect their message to be believed. It's like when people start sentences with "To be completely frank...", you know they're about to lie.

Dejah, there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who understand what you mean, and who came to a similar conclusion based on personal experience; and those who absolutely have no idea what you're talking about.

I have a co-worker who often prefaces an utterance with, "To be honest with you..." I remarked on this to another co-worker (a Bush supporter) and pointed out that our colleague was confessing that sometimes he is dishonest. I pointed out that when our colleague says, "I'll be honest with you," he either is about to tell a bald-faced lie, or he is trying another tactic and really is about to say something truthful.

The co-worker (and Bush supporter) whom I was talking to gazed upon me with pity. "Holden, sometimes you think too much," she said. And that pretty much sums up the mindset of many Bush supporters: It's better not to think. And it's better to listen to the surface words of what people say, rather than the real meaning.
posted by Holden at 4:56 AM on June 27, 2004

As was mentioned earlier, I'd think this is at least partially the product of two different media cultures. Those who are comparing this reporter's interviewing style to O'Really should listen to the BBC - many of their interviews lack the veneer of politeness that is par for the course over here. Interrupting and badgering are pretty common. This is a bit of a non-story for me.

Although it's ever more obvious that our fearless leader is pretty slow-witted when it comes to discussions of policy.
posted by deadcowdan at 5:01 AM on June 27, 2004

Surely, the story isn't the interview, but the reaction - a superior president/administration would surely take such a thing in its stride?
posted by ascullion at 6:14 AM on June 27, 2004

The only reason this is a story at all deadcowdan is because the president has absolutely no ability to handle himself under fire. The slightest perturbation in the script really unsettles Bush. For those that have only listened to the mp3, it's worth while watching the video to see the squirming and grimacing and befuddled smirking that accompanies all of that incoherent stammering. The man is nearly helpless before a non-cowtowing journalist. He comes off as dangerously incompetent and weak in the head in this interview.

Which is also why he had to have Cheney by his side when he appeared (in private) before the 9-11 commission, why he couldn't swear to tell the truth, I mean really, why didn't he just come out and say that he (and by he I mean Cheney) reserves the right to lie to the commission?
posted by sic at 6:33 AM on June 27, 2004

Yeah, upon reflection my choice of words was not very clear. My "non-story" was aimed at those who are accusing this journalist of being especially rude or argumentative. The reaction this journalist received from the president and his people is more of a story, although perhaps not as big as one might think. As long as I've been paying attention, I can remember the White House using access to the President as a carrot or stick to keep the White House press corps in line. This is really just a ham-handed example of that.

Although it just occurred to me: what exactly did RTE lose when the Laura Bush interview was yanked? She's been FL for almost three and a half years, and I can't think of one memorable thing she's said in that time.
posted by deadcowdan at 7:24 AM on June 27, 2004

< crocodile dundee>

That's not an interview
That's an interview

< /crocodile dundee>
posted by fullerine at 7:51 AM on June 27, 2004

I find it interesting that nobody has mentioned "Vestgate" ... :)

Come on now, would it shock the world to see GWB in his lil' white vest? Apparently so, the way the Irish Govt. cracked down on it.

I can only assume the next time GWB gave a speech before the congress, all the congressmen would have got up and chanted (a la soccer supporters) "We saw your vest! We saw your vest!" and this is something Dubya desperately wants to avoid ...
posted by kaemaril at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2004

I think she matched his aggressiveness, in that he thought he could respond with his stump speech, and she called him on a line which has made me wince every time he utters it over here (namely that the world is much better off now that we've pre-emptively invaded a country against the will of the international community).

He's unused to getting rapid follow-ups (or interrupted, for that matter). He's also snapped at reporters who call him 'sir' instead of Mr. President ("Who you talkin' to?"), even if they called him Mr. President four times without response. I was surprised they scheduled the interview at all. I doubt they'll make that mistake again.
posted by Busithoth at 8:02 AM on June 27, 2004

Reporters are generally aggressive, slightly unpleasant, tough interlocutors. They pin people down and try to force information out of them. They peel away the veneer, and ruthelessly expose politicians for who they are. This used to be the case in the United States.

In the U.S. pundits blur the lines between reporters--those who pry information out of people-- and political spokespersons cum celebrities like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and regrettably Michael Moore. American reporters are not asking politicians tough questions, they marketing themselves to their viewers, interviewing each other and trying to bolster their own narrow ideologies. In short, they play at being spokespersons.

This reporter was not trying be nice, she was trying to elicit a strong reaction, to giver her viewers an idea of what kind of man G.W. Bush is. He didn't answer her questions, but he did show himself to be impatient, inarticulate and intolerant of dissent. Even if you agree with the war on terror, the war on Iraq, the patriot act, the DOM amendment, it's hard to see this man as a uniter, not a divider, or as a humble servant of democracy.

This reporter was not trying to be liked. She was doing her job, and if our press did their's, the Republicans would find a better candidate.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:48 AM on June 27, 2004

I must have heard a different interview.

Let me start by saying, I really don't like Bush. I think it's important to our national interests that the US sends an overwhelming message to the rest of the world to the effect of these guys don't represent us. Their arrogance is not US arrogance. We want to work together. I very much hope that come November, that's what will happen.

That said, Bush comes across very well in this interview (I only listened). He's surprisingly good at going off script given what I've seen from him in the past.

Either we're seeing a different interview, or a lot of people are seeing it with biased eyes.
posted by willnot at 9:49 AM on June 27, 2004

OK, I had only heard the minute and a half where Carol tells him she thinks the world is not a better place since the invasion when I posted earlier.

Having heard the whole thing now, (The video won't run for me) I think she did interrupt a lot. But he evaded a lot, too. He sounded kind throughout, though.
posted by Busithoth at 10:15 AM on June 27, 2004

willnot, if you think that Bush came off well in that interview and that he's good off the script, you have an amazingly low standard. Compare him to Blair, Chiraq or Clinton or even his father (all of whom I despise(d) as politicians) and you'll find that Bush is by far the worst at thinking on his feet. He stammers, he gets confused, he repeats jingoistic expressions and pat phrases over and over, he makes strange faces at inappropriate moments. I mean it's always painful to watch him "communicate", under the slightist pressure it becomes unbearable...
posted by sic at 11:00 AM on June 27, 2004

Either we're seeing a different interview, or a lot of people are seeing it with biased eyes.

Third possibility: you're seeing it with biased eyes (ears).
posted by five fresh fish at 11:38 AM on June 27, 2004

It's "Kowtow."

posted by hoboynow at 12:08 PM on June 27, 2004

One would think he might have been able to pull this interview off with a bit more finesse given that he apparently had access to all her questions three days in advance. I'll bet he was prepped to be aggressive and to go on the offense with her.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2004

He interrupted her twice before she interrupted him at all, and he had clearly finished talking on most of the times she started asking another question.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:20 PM on June 27, 2004

Thanks hoboynow. I was wondering why Shoos was unable to continue the debate. I thought it was because he was backing the wrong horse, but it turns out that spelling mistakes throw him into fits of hysteria.

I hope he's ok.

By the way deadcowdan, I agree, losing the Laura Bush interview shouldn't be a blow to RTE.
posted by sic at 3:21 PM on June 27, 2004

Third possibility: you're seeing it with biased eyes (ears).

Except that I'm highly biased against him. I've seen him give some braindead interviews. I think he's generally an idiot. It's possible that given my impression of him, I'm underestimating him, so anything approaching competence seems reasonable by comparison.

I don't think that's the case though. I genuinely feel that in that interview, he comes across as very reasonable and persuasive.
posted by willnot at 3:26 PM on June 27, 2004

was wondering why Shoos was unable to continue the debate

Sorry, I needed to get my daily sleep. Did I say something about spelling?

Anyways, what can I say, I stand by my original claim. Poor old Carole was trolling. If the Irish or Europeans have a high bar for trolling, then they have a high bar for trolling. When I get some time perhaps I'll put together a formal proof of my position in standard logic notation and post it here.
posted by shoos at 4:37 PM on June 27, 2004

Clinton v. Dimbleby last week:
One BBC executive who has seen the interview...said: "He is visibly angry with Dimbleby’s line of questioning, and some of that anger gets directed at Dimbleby himself. As outbursts go, it is not just some flash that is over in an instant. It is something substantial and sustained."
posted by shoos at 4:56 PM on June 27, 2004

Hey, where's sic? Did he give up? So soon?
posted by shoos at 4:59 PM on June 27, 2004

So getting mad about being asked, repeatedly, about monica lewinsky is equivalent to getting mad about being asked questions about Iraq and terrorism?
posted by Space Coyote at 5:12 PM on June 27, 2004

I think Bush and Coleman both come off differently in the video versus the audio-only interview. Maybe we Americans are used to people not interrupting each other on the radio, maybe it's those facial expressions of G.W.'s when Coleman pounces on his digressions. Especially the first time she interrupts - he has this "How dare you?" look on his face that's simply priceless. Plus, his body language and demeanor, more and more as the interview progresses, fairly scream "fratboy in over his head," not "natural leader." That self-satisfied smirk as he quotes the Bible - in a verse about humility! - just seems so cocky, arrogant, and tone-deaf. That detail is lost when all you have is the audio.

Also, diminished expectations for this man can be subtle, gradual, and difficult to detect in oneself. I noticed this when, during the weekend after Ronald Reagan's death, C-Span played video of his speech at Normandy in 1984 right after Bush's speech at Normandy this year. Bush had improved considerably from his campaign speeches of three years ago, but compared to Reagan, the difference in delivery was remarkable, and I am no fan of Reagan as a President. Also, I can only imagine the meltdowns that Bush would undergo if he ever had to submit himself to Prime Minister's Questions.
posted by skoosh at 5:25 PM on June 27, 2004

Space Coyote: the vanishingly subtle point I was making was that maybe on occasion American politicians tend to feel that the treatment they get from a certain subset of journalists is at times not appropriate, and they respond accordingly.

Here's the analogy all spelled out in Highlights form.

Coleman was to Bush what Dimbleby was to ???


And Clinton got all huffy puffy over what? The Monica Lewinsky affair? Why, you, Space Coyote, know how trivial this was in comparison to the Iraq/terrorism issue, right? And he goes and gets all ballistic over it! Like I'd trust that guy with his finger on the nuclear button! Judging from that interview he'd probably nuke us all if we so much as told him his hair looked funny.
posted by shoos at 5:39 PM on June 27, 2004

posted by Space Coyote at 6:06 PM on June 27, 2004

OK, to be a little more patient. A poor reporter asking a good president dumb questions vs. a good reporter asking a bad president good questions. See the difference?
posted by Space Coyote at 6:08 PM on June 27, 2004

I see that your perception is different from mine.
posted by shoos at 6:46 PM on June 27, 2004

A poor reporter asking a good president dumb questions vs. a good reporter asking a bad president good questions.

Objectivity is your strong point.
posted by David Dark at 7:11 PM on June 27, 2004

shoos, your perception appears to have been altered by illegal substances.

Look at the Dimbleby-Clinton interview. Look at how Clinton handled it. Imagine Bush getting the Dimbleby treatment (which, by British standards, is extremely soft). There you go.

Coleman was doing exactly what a broadcast interviewer does over here: when the interviewee gets digressive and flannels the questions, you wait for a pause and follow up. Or try and get the interviewee to address the question.

Bush was doing exactly what he does over in the States, from what I've seen of his press conferences: he basically has a crib sheet that he repeats ad nauseam. (A bit like an Action Man with half a dozen sayings when you pull the cord, really.)

What you get is a head-on collision. And Bush came off much worse. The silly thing is that had Coleman been allowed by the White House to interview Laura Bush, you'd have most likely seen a much less adversarial tone, since she's not a bloody politician. But that sort of treatment is meted out to ceremonial figures, not heads of government; to imply that an American president deserves an exceptional degree of 'respect' (i.e. deference) is a bit rich.
posted by riviera at 9:06 PM on June 27, 2004

Riviera, the interview was in the US and the interviewee was the US president. My take is that from Bush's standpoint, regardless of whatever standards you or Carole are used to, he was well within propriety to see and respond to her as a troll. Someone needs to establish some cultural sensitivity training requirements with these out of control Eurocentric reporters.
posted by shoos at 11:02 PM on June 27, 2004

Poor old Carole was trolling.


Sorry, Shoos, I couldn't resist, but that was the last response you made to me before your nap (talking about setting the bar low).

Anyway, Riviera already said what I would have, my observation is not that Bush gets "huffy" as you say Clinton does (as all politicians do from time to time), it is that under pressure he becomes confused and begins to act, physically, in a bizarre fashion. His facial gestures rarely match what he is saying. That weird grimace-smile flashes on and off. In short, he comes unglued. Anyway, the world has had three full years of his strange behavior and if you haven't noticed it yet, it's obvious that you never will no matter what I say.

All I can do is congratulate you in your unshakable faith in your party.
posted by sic at 1:32 AM on June 28, 2004

I'm not a Republican, nor ever voted for one, and was probably more dismayed than you when Bush took office. But that's another issue.
posted by shoos at 4:45 AM on June 28, 2004

For you and your view towards reporters shoos:

"It is not the writer's task to answer questions but to question answers. To be impertinent, insolent, and, if necessary, subversive." - Edward Abbey

Now that's how it is supposed to really work. Politics is a dirty business and reporters need to act accordingly. To do otherwise is to abrogate their responsibility as the fourth column of good government. And I don't give a flying f*ck whether Prince ("fabulous") Boy George likes it or not.
posted by nofundy at 6:17 AM on June 28, 2004

I'm not a Republican, nor ever voted for one, and was probably more dismayed than you when Bush took office. But that's another issue.

posted by sic at 6:27 AM on June 28, 2004

Who cares about journalists actually having some ethics and... I dare say, civility in their dogged pursuit of the truth.

You obviously don't listen much to British-style interviews. This is just how they do it over there. They seem to understand that elected representatives are accountable, and they will often debate obvious dissembling and/or falsehoods. Parliment is similar -- if you ever listen to a speech given in Parliment, listen to the grousing that goes on in the background. It's part of the culture.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that as a people, the Brits have a few more centuries under their belts dealing with people who would claim power over them.

It's like when people start sentences with "To be completely frank...", you know they're about to lie.

Saying that also implies that they have not been completely truthful for you up to that point.
posted by moonbiter at 11:07 AM on June 28, 2004

the Brits have a few more centuries under their belts dealing with people who would claim power over them.

So before 1776, the people who were to become American only existed in poteniality?
posted by shoos at 1:32 PM on June 28, 2004

With a contiguous government and culture, I'd say yes.
posted by moonbiter at 1:43 PM on June 28, 2004

Moonbiter, the people who were to become the first citizens of the U.S. didn't just pop out of the ground when the country was created. They, and their antecedents, just like any other group of humans, all had their own histories and experiences with people trying to 'claim power over them.' Why the English would have any more experience of this sort is not at all clear to me. For god's sake, one of the reasons these people came to the Americas at all was to get the hell away from assholes trying to control them.
posted by shoos at 2:42 PM on June 28, 2004

It's obvious that they did not spring full-born from the forehead of Zeus. Certainly our forebears brought their history with them. However the people who immigrated to the U.S. were, in large part, not the norm for their society but the exceptions.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
They created new, liberal institutions, intentionally trying to make themselves different from the way things were done "back home." Furthermore, history doesn't seem to mean as much to Americans, at least not any history beyond that of about 1776 or so.

Of course, I can be completely wrong about this -- maybe there is another source for their reporters' aggressiveness in interviews. I'm willing to admit that, and I'm probably being overly broad by generalizing. It's entirely possible that the normal Brit or other European cares about as much as the normal American about things like history, institutions, etc.

However, as far as I can tell my original point -- that this is par for the course for UK and Irish news interviewers -- is true. I first noticed it when I started listening to the BBC and RTE years ago, and I've rarely seen anything like it in the States. American reporters certainly seem to treat the President and others as though they are royalty, as opposed to the accountable elected representatives that they are supposed to be.
posted by moonbiter at 4:40 PM on June 28, 2004

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