David Letterman: The Toughest Interview On Television
David Letterman: The toughest interview in town. The fall of the contemporary journalist.
I was watching David Letterman last night and his main guest was former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Dave started the interview asking Rod Blagojevich "why are you here." Rod Blagojevich responded that he wanted to be on Letterman's show "in the worst way." Letterman responded that he was there in the "worst way."
Yes, Letterman was going for laughs. But he asked Blagojevich tough questions as well. In fact, Letterman made Blagojevich feel uncomfortable by asking direct questions about what is going on. Throughout the interview, Dave asked Blogo the questions I was asking. For example, doesn't this media blitz make you seem more guilty than if you remained quiet?
While watching this I thought to myself, why is Letterman the only person on television who interviews politicians that actually ask tough questions. Letterman did the same thing to John McCain and to Barak Obama. He asked direct questions on policy or conduct that makes the candidates uncomfortable and actually makes them leave the talking points behind. Letterman seems to ask the questions ordinary questions Americans want to have asked. Whenever CNN or Fox interviews politicians the interviews are either soft or the moderator spends the interview berating the guest (See Bill O'Reily). Gone are the days of objective debate. Instead, it is partisan hand holding or partisan berating. This is not what the media is for.
Letterman v. O'Reilly
The reason I raise this issue is because it appears that the news media is no longer willing to make politicians feel uncomfortable anymore. They no longer ask tough questions. They no longer press when their questions are not answered. Whether it be CNN, Fox News, NBC, they ask "softball" questions that only receive the talking points as a response. Then they spend an hour discussing what a great interview it was with a six panel box of talking heads.
I miss Tim Russert. Meet the Press was the only place politicians of both parties had their feet held to the fire. No where else are our leaders forced to explain their behavior. Now with Tim Russert gone, Letterman seems to be the only willing to ask the tough questions. And I appreciate that he does.
In the era of trillion dollar "stimulus" packages and eight years of war, the media refuses to ask tough questions. They spend more time evaluating their own coverage rather than the policies being put into place. It is time the media became the "watchdog" of our society again. Until that happens, I will have to rely on Dave to ask the tough questions.
Not A Interview But Keeping Them Honest
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