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Krugman v Geithner?

Thursday, April 02, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A three-part exchange with Jay Rosen and Lance Knobel, via email, that would make a good blog post.  Permalink to this paragraph

I began with an observation... Permalink to this paragraph

I was listening to the podcast of This Week, and listening to George Stephanopoulos mangle the interview with Geithner, who was doing the usual thing that politicos do when interviewed by politicos, he mouthed platitudes and ignored the questions, which GS just repeated. They were stupid Russert-like questions, basically amounting to: Did you change your mind? Permalink to this paragraph

Then Krugman comes on, as part of the panel, more nonsense, Krugman is actually trying to say real things, but the conversation keeps coming back to impressions and gotchas and lies. Permalink to this paragraph

Then it hit me -- Krugman should have interviewed Geithner. Permalink to this paragraph

Lance responds... Permalink to this paragraph

Absolutely, but I suspect Geithner would never agree to it. Major political figures learn pretty quickly that they can bamboozle the supposed professional interviewers. So there's very little downside to going on the Sunday shows, 60 Minutes or whatever. Experts and, even more, complete amateurs, are far more dangerous. Permalink to this paragraph

You see this occasionally during campaigns. I remember in one of Tony Blair's campaigns he was asked some absolutely direct, specific question by a woman on the street which completely stumped him. He was absolutely at sea. That never happened with the professional journalists, even though Britain has far tougher inquisitors than the US. (See Jeremy Paxman famously torture then Home Secretary Michael Howard.) Permalink to this paragraph

The ease with which politicians evade questions is what led to the idiocy of Russert. Instead it should have/could have led to questioners who bothered to learn a subject in depth and would probe through follow-ups and persistence. What I love about the Paxman interview is that he never allowed himself to be brushed off. Stephanopoulos and the others may repeat a question a second time, but then they'll move on. Permalink to this paragraph

Jay responds... Permalink to this paragraph

Great idea. Only reason it doesn't happen is the limited imagination of the show's producers. They are masters of a form. They do not want to change that form for all the obvious reasons. Permalink to this paragraph

Also, Krugman screws with their "sphere of consensus" mindset. They don't know what he's going to do, or say. That is seriously scarifying to them. Permalink to this paragraph

See: Audience AtomizationPermalink to this paragraph

Lance adds... Permalink to this paragraph

Incidentally, one reason why Rachel Maddow is so good is because she's both very bright and incredibly well-informed on the details of so many issues. Having a doctorate in political science can be an advantage. She hasn't yet sunk into the standard form that Jay identifies. Permalink to this paragraph

One more thought from Jay... Permalink to this paragraph

You'll notice, as well, that an arched eyebrow and a "flip flop, Mr. Secretary?" question can be asked without running up any bills in knowledge acquisition costs for the particular issues the Secretary knows about. Whereas Krugman is up to speed and does not need to rely on one-size-fits-all questions. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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