WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Placing Conditions on Interviews

May 24, 2016

Reporters from six local television stations across the country were each recently offered a chance to interview President Barack Obama.  But there was a catch – they had to agree to ask a question about his U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Shop Talk panelist Jonathan Ahl said he would have no problem agreeing to that kind of condition.  But he said it’s important to disclose to the audience that a condition was placed on the interview. 

Ahl and fellow panelists Rich Egger and Jasmine Crighton all feel it would be wrong to agree to an interview if certain topics are barred from discussion.   

Ahl also said the best trained politicians and celebrities are adept at handling a difficult or uncomfortable question – often by dancing around it and moving on to another topic.

Egger pointed out the condition placed on the television reporters did not require them to use the question & answer in their stories – they simply had to ask a question about the issue.  The reporters could then choose whether to include that exchange in their stories.

Crighton found this particular case fairly innocuous.  Like the other panelists, she sees no harm in agreeing to inquire about a particular subject. But she would not, for example, agree to interview Bill Cosby, who won’t respond to questions about rape allegations against him.