Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

We Were Delighted To Have You Here

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This is a quickie.

I just watched the interview between CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose, Nora O’Donnell, Gayle King and Senator Elizabeth Warren. And three things were clear;

1.  Ms. Warren is a passionate speaker who uses anecdotes, examples, metaphors and deep detail when answering questions.
2.  Each anchor wanted to get in at least a few questions with this passionate politician they each seemed to clearly admire.
3.  Each anchors was watching the clock and knew they had cut her off eventually.

I’ve talked about this before. Sometimes, you get a guest that drones on but doesn’t have much to say.  But sometimes, you get a guest like Elizabeth Warren who has a lot of compelling things to say.  The problem is the host might not want to treat them the same but the studio clock does.

As a way to try to beat time, a host that admires a guest may ask their questions quickly in hopes of getting them answered quickly, knowing they are running out of time.  But when you have multiple hosts and they all admire the guest and they’re all tussling to ask their own questions quickly, you get the kind of mini pile up I saw this morning.

Of course all three anchors are reporters, and so they know how the etiquette of the press pool transfers to the anchor desk.  They were all professional to each other and the guest.  But you could see them all trying to get their own questions answered before this amazing woman left the set.

At one point, Gayle King began a question in typical Gayle style – hand in the air plowing the road for the question rushing at the guest like a sirocco – and Nora bogarted her.  At another, Charlie Rose, realizing the urgency among the hosts was running high, gently said “I just want to ask a question” as a way of surrendering to the interview God in hopes he would be smiled upon favorably with an answer from Ms. Warren.  He was.

But then, there is Ms. Warren who answers each question with sincere, in-depth answers that burns seconds like oxygen in diving bell.

What are they all to do?

In the end, the floor director, via master control via the director via the master clock had the last word.
And Gayle said so …

“We were delighted to have had you here.”  And they all meant it.



Written by Interviewer

April 22, 2014 at 23:09

Posted in Scratchpad

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