Who’s the worst person to interview? Is it a cliché-spouting professional athlete or a politician paying no attention to the question he or she has been asked? I think it’s the politician.
Obviously, interviews regarding public affairs are crucial to any news program, but for the very reason that they deal with the news, they flunk the “memorable” test. The news is, by definition, transitory. A news story is already old once it’s been broadcast. We often follow up on stories that have dropped out of the headlines, but usually we move on to something new. Political interviews are important at the time, but that time passes.
I certainly do remember my interview with President Clinton because it was my only visit to the Oval Office. Waiting for the president to arrive, I made mental notes on what books were in the room, the pattern of the upholstery, and the variety of stuff on the president’s desk. Impressive, but not as nice as Martin Sheen’s office on The West Wing. I recall that Clinton was headed for his budget showdown with Congress and used a buzzword common to Washington dialogue. “If there’s going to be a train wreck,” he said, “then it won’t be my fault; it’ll be the fault of Republican leaders in Congress.” In hindsight, that was an important comment. The “train wreck” occurred when Congress refused to pass the budget, shutting down many government services. Voters blamed the Republicans, and their anger helped Clinton win a second