Monday, July 11, 2011

Comment Fail and Journalism 101

Listen... I don't want to bite the hand that feeds me, nor do I fail to recognize that the Daily Caller wouldn't exist without readers. But honestly, sometimes I review some of the comments and I want to hit myself in the face with my monopod.

Recently, I filmed an interview with NY Times columnist, David Brooks, conducted by senior editor Jamie Weinstein.

Frankly, I think it was a pretty good interview... But here's what one reader had to say:
The Daily Caller is becoming a joke if they believe this Brooks goof is a Conservative. The Democrats have worked with their allies in the media to hire liberals that call themselves conservative Republicans.

Brooks endorsed Obama in 2008. The NYT would never hire an actual conservative pro Republican.

I think maybe Tucker is going down the same road as Brooks, Scarboroughourh, Kathleen Parker and other Liberal Republicans.


Brooks is a moron and only offers liberal nonsense. Glad to read most of the comments here agree with me.

The daily caller is off my reading list. Need not waste my time. Too bad.

Maybe Chris Wallace can get a job at the Daily Caller."
I don't normally do this, but I did reply to this character... It's not really my habit, especially not based on the commentariat we seem to attract over here (it's mostly unthinking Left vs. Right partisan crap, if I'm honest), but I mean... C'mon.

What's "sad" here, is that any of our readers would believe that being in the same room with someone and asking them questions implies "agreement" with their espoused beliefs.

As any reader of this blog should be able to infer, I agree with approximately 0% of David Brooks' core views on anything. In general, there are few people in my entire office who agree with him on anything either, by the way... Now, granted, I don't agree with him because he's about as statist as it gets, and some over here don't agree with him because he's "not conservative enough" politically. But the point here is that just because we interview someone does NOT mean we agree with everything they say!

This is kind of journalism 101, isn't it?

I have filmed dozens of interviews since I've been doing this job, and while I agree with little pieces of some of our subjects' viewpoints here and there, for the most part I've barely agreed with anybody.

Let's run down a short list, shall we? I've been in the same room with: Michele Bachmann, Marco Rubio, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Ann Coulter, Mark Levin, Charles Krauthammer... and do I agree with any of them on more than a 10th of the positions any of them hold? Nope!

But my job isn't to "agree" with everyone. It's to film interviews, events, etc. and present them as accurately as possible.

To be a commenter on a website and assume that simply because a person was interviewed on that site - especially a big, "top 1000" website like The Daily Caller - that intrinsically means that the reporters, editors, producers, and everybody else working for the website must agree with the views of the interviewee is utterly insane.

I typically shoot interviews with 2 or 3 people per week, and produce videos on a wide range of different topics. If I had to "agree" with all of them on everything, I don't think I could interview any of them. Even the occasional libertarian or interview subject I actually really like who I get to do pieces with I still don't always agree with on every issue.

Andy Puzder, CEO of Carl's Jr. would be a great example of that, actually. For the most part, I think he was spot on with practical solutions to helping free up the economy and clearing the way for business development in America. But, he's Catholic... I'm atheist.


So yeah... I don't get it. My job is to bring people information... as it is... and in fact, the biggest complaint I've had in the last several months has been focusing too much of my time on talking to "conservatives" and not having nearly enough diversity of viewpoints in terms of interview subjects.

I was glad to talk to David Brooks.

Not because I agree with him (in fact, I agree with him far less than I agree with a lot of the people I've filmed), but because his viewpoint is different.

Don't get me wrong. David Brooks, in almost one breath, claimed to be highly mistrustful of central planning and claimed Edmund Burke as a major philosophical influence, and then turned right around and suggested that "maybe Obama was right about the auto-bailouts", and argued for all kinds of central planning.

That kind of cognitive dissonance is fitting for the NY Times, if you ask me...

But here's the thing, when he was on camera... you didn't ask me! And I wasn't planning on offering the opinion. My job is quite simple. Questions are asked, I film the answers - and make all that sound and look as good as I possibly can - and then you decide what you think about the interviewee. That's it.

I don't Michael Moore anything, I don't try to take people out of context or edit the chronology to make people say things they didn't say. All I do is show up, record what happened in a professional sort of a way, come back and put it up so you can see it.

Seriously... Easy.

And yet here's this commenter who seems to believe that he would be intellectually better off, and certainly that the website would be more to his liking, if we only ever interviewed people he likes and agrees with... How pitiful.

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