Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘Governor

Don’t Forget the X Factor

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Female terrorist

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said Oregonians have a moral obligation to accept Syrian refugees despite reports that one of the Paris attackers had a Syrian passport.  According to NPR, this has led 23 governors to say they do not want any Syrian refugees and that the President should reconsider his policy of admitting up to ten-thousand refugees.

In a subsequent OPB story, emphasis was placed on the number of single, combat aged men, who assumedly are most capable of conducting such terrorist operations.  However, the story ignored the number of single, combat aged women.  Jayne Huckerby, an associate professor at Duke University law school who advises governments in counter-terrorism strategies told the Los Angeles Times that female terrorists have a long history of exploiting gender stereotypes to avoid detection, and through counter-terrorism measures, have become more effective.  She says women account for about 10% of those joining Islamic State from Europe and about 20% of those joining from France.

Female terrorist ranks include 57-year old grandmother Fatima Omar Mahmoud Al Majjar.  She attempted to kill two Israeli soldiers in 2007.  Also, Samantha Lewthwaite, the infamous “White Widow” for her involvement in a case in Kenya in 2011.  According to Philip Perry of Liberty Voice, female acts of terrorism have skyrocketed since the 1980s, taking place in such countries as Palestine, Iraq, Israel, Chechnya, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Sri Lanka. Half the suicide bombings in Turkey, Sri Lanka and Chechnya since 2002 have been perpetrated by women. In 2008 Iraqi female bombers had detonated themselves 21 times before the year was even halfway over.

The moral obligation of the United States to help people fleeing for their lives remains unchanged.  And as these stories are told, the media must continue to struggle to not profile.  But newsworthy statistics that are part of the equation should also be part of the story.

Women are equally deadly.

Photo by Hanna Kozlowska of the Chauthi Duniya newspaper

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Written by Interviewer

November 18, 2015 at 06:31

How to Be Wrong

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Red X

KBOO is a community radio station here in Portland that has occupied the far left politically and on the radio dial for almost 50 years.  I conduct interviews for KBOO’s news and public affairs.  So I assumed that because KBOO champions LGBTQ issues, the news director would be interested in new Governor Kate Brown’s view on human rights issues as they affect that group.  Ms. Brown is the nation’s first bi-sexual state executive.  I had been trying to secure an interview since shortly after she assumed the governorship.

Chris Pair, the Governor’s spokesperson was, at all times, prompt in his replies to my requests and cordial in explaining the governor’s schedule and the difficulty in getting an interview for anything except in response to specific issues, i.e. bill signings, policy statements, etc.  But today, he was specific by saying focusing on anything other than Ms. Brown’s work in office is not where they want to take the messaging.

Jenka Soderberg, KBOO’s news director concurred with Mr. Pair.  She said she didn’t understand why the mainstream media, including the Oregonian, had latched onto Ms. Brown’s personal life while there were many more pressing issues that she felt deserved public attention.  Among them, what Ms. Brown can do as Governor to prevent the EPA from forcing the city to cover its reservoirs.  Or learning her views on preventing Nestle’ from setting up a bottling plant in Cascade Locks and using ungodly amounts of water while Oregon is suffering through its worst drought in decades.

At that moment, I felt like I had missed a meeting.  And I remembered again why they’re called news “directors”.  I guess it’s one thing to assume something is important, but it’s another for it to actually be as important as you assume.  And we all know what happens when we assume.  Reporters need directors and editors because reporters are not always right.

Maybe later, the messaging will line up and make that other conversation happen. Maybe not.  But pressing business is the headline today.

I get it.

Written by Interviewer

May 22, 2015 at 09:47

Fer it before he wuz agin it

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Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush told Megyn Kelly on Fox News that he, along with many people in the Senate in 2001, would’ve done exactly what his brother, former President Bush did when confronted with 911; pursue a course of war.  That was certainly a clear answer.  But later, Mr. Bush, while being interviewed by Sean Hannity, said he didn’t understand the question as it was posed by Ms. Kelly, called it a” hypothetical” and said he didn’t know what he would’ve done.

Perhaps supporters of the war who are also Bush’s supporters put pressure on him to recant.  But his follow up is one of those things that make you go, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm …

But before it looks like this is bagging on Jeb Bush, consider:
– Theantimedia.org said Rand Paul was against the Drug War before he was for it
– The New American says General Norman Schwartzkopf was against the 1991 Gulf War before he was for it
– Twitchy.com says John Kerry was for the Iraq war before he was against it
– Fox News says former Senator and Presidential candidate John Edwards was for the war in Iraq before he was against it.
– The Daily Kos says Mitt Romney was for the Vietnam War before he was against it.
– Outside the Beltway says Senator John McCain was for trading taliban prisoners for Army Sgt. Beau Bergdahl before he was against it
– Wizbangblog says former President Bill Clinton was for the war in Iraq before he was against it.
– Politicususa.com says Paul Ryan was for the war in Syria before he was against it
– Foreign Policy magazine says President Obama says he was against the authorization for the war before he was for it
– Politicalwire.com says former Vice President Dick Cheney was against the Iraq was before he was for it …

… and on and on.

Clearly, Mr. Bush doesn’t want to throw his brother under the bus for the 12-year Iraq War.  But you don’t hear Republicans speaking of George W. with the same reverence of Ronald Reagan.  That says something about how party faithful on the right see the Bush Doctrine.

The larger point is politicians change their minds for their own reasons like all of the rest of us.  Except when we do it, it isn’t necessarily a judgement on our character or mental faculties.  It won’t necessarily destroy our lives or give people license to judge us for the rest of our lives because we were human.

Interviewers need to bring up inconsistencies like this during subsequent interviews.  To not is to deny constituents, whether they’re listening to business leaders or politicians, the opportunity to truly understand their thought process.  And once recants like this are being discussed, the interviewer needs to press the question to the edge of journalistic decorum.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber

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200px-John_Kitzhaber

I interviewed former Oregon legislator Dennis Richardson in April 2014.  At that time, Mr. Richardson was running against Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber as the Republican nominee.  And during that conversation, he hinted that the governor’s office should uphold high standards of behavior.  Specifically, he told me:

“As far as being governor’s concerned, what I want to do that will set an example is be a governor who truly is mindful of the people. I feel the higher up your position the greater your responsibility for a larger number of people to represent them and to be accountable to them. To have a governor who is accessible, who’s transparent, who’s open, who’s honest, who’s willing to accept advice from the right sources and then use that to make the judgment that he feels is best and then explain that to the people to truly represent the people of the state and not merely have this title of being governor”.

Did Mr. Richardson know something that he preferred to not say?  In light of all that is happening with Mr. Kitzhaber right now, those comments now seem prescient.

Hear the entire interview with Mr. Richardson here.

Written by Interviewer

February 13, 2015 at 07:44

Grunt Work

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database

I haven’t posted to my state constitutions blog since I launched the site … too busy.  And, unlike the conventional wisdom that you beat the hell out of people with blog posts, twitter posts, linkedin posts, facebook posts, Google+ posts, tumbler posts, etc, I just kind of write when I think I have something relevant to say.  But I’m sharing this post with both blogs because they share a common element.  Lists.

I am a list builder.  It is one of my gifts (and curses).  I can build a list with phone book sized data in very short order because I am extremely focused and I know where to go and what to do when I get there.  To wit, I’m just about finished with a list of all of the mayors of all of the major American cities.  I started it yesterday.  I’m going to use it to tell them about my state constitutions website.  I am constantly hearing about how mayors bump up against governors, or how smaller cities are constantly wrestling with larger cities, or how municipalities and counties have disputes with the state over issues like Home Rule and taxes, for example.  So I guess that by giving these mayors access to a resource like my site, it might make it easier for them and their staffs to research questions just a little bit faster.

This makes probably the 10th such list aimed at the 10th such specific audience I’ve thought up.  I’ve got another three or four more lists, just as long and detailed, to go.  But when I’m done, everyone I can think of with interest will know about it.  Then, I’ll just have to wait for the idea to percolate.  But at least I will have done my part.

Written by Interviewer

December 31, 2013 at 00:35

Political Interviews

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Image

I am engaged in another project to bring government to the people. I am inviting all candidates for office in Oregon for 2014 to talk to me about their candidacy and their goals if they are elected or reelected.  As of this writing, I’ve talked with three and 10 or so more have shown interest.  The interviews will be either about :30 or :60 minutes long depending mostly on how long we talk.  All interviews will be posted at the KBOO FM (http://kboo.fm/betweenus) website under my podcast, “Between Us”, which is a collection of interviews I’ve done with celebrities and regular people.  They will also be posted at my interview website, Conversus (http://www.convers.us/page4.archive.html).  In both places, visitors will also be able to read and print a transcript I created of the interview.