Friday, May 6, 2011

A Word on Interviewing Etiquette

Even before she became the first Black female Secretary of State, I've always had a level of respect for Condoleezza Rice.  Not because I agree with anything she says - in fact, just so we're clear, I vehemently disagree with just about everything she says, her conservative ideology, her decision to serve under the Bush Administration, and her entire premise for being a Black Republican in the first place (she was motivated to became a Republican because Dixiecrats in the South - which constituted a minor % of the Democratic party up until the 1960's - openly discrimintaed against Black people).  Nevertheless, my aforementioned issues notwithstanding, I must admit that I still maintain a great level of resepect for Ms. Rice's many professional and academic achievements and, above all else, I respect how she carries herself.  And last night, while sitting down for an interview with MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, she did not disappoint in that regard. 

Rice did not allow O'Donnell to talk over her and she respectfully yet firmly set the tone early on by telling him that if his intention was to continue cutting her off and talking over her throughtout the interview that they could simply "end the interview right now if you don't want me to finish my point."  At one point O'Donnell reverted back to cutting her off and she again firmly yet respectfully reminded him of his inappropriateness by saying "Lawrence, we can either do this with your words or with mine."  I can appreciate that.  In this highly overcharged, highly partisan 24/7 news media where respect for our elected officials is a mere afterthought for most media figures, it was refreshing to see a former Secretary of State command the respect that is due to anybody who has served our country in that position.  In fact, I submit that more elected officials need to take a page from Rice's book on interview etiquette.

A few months ago, Bill O'Reilly conducted a similar interview in which he afforded ZERO respect to the current sitting President of the United States, Barack Obama.  This wasn't just a former elected official.  No.  This was THE current President.  And he showed no respect.  And what's worse is that Obama allowed him to show no respect just as he allowed Republican Congressman Joe Wilson to disrespect the office of the Presidency on the House floor during a formal session when Wilson shouted out "You Lie!" - an act that has never happened in the 235 year history of our country.

I'm not saying that the President has to stoop down to their level, but just as Condi Rice firmly yet respectfully reminded her interviewer that he had crossed the line of respect, so too should President Obama and the other elected officials of our nation begin to set the appropriate tone with our ratings-driven news media who lately seem to be overplaying their position.

View Lawrence O'Donnell's interview with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice

Compare and Contrast with Bill O'Reilly's interview with the President of the United States:

See the difference?
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