TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Off-The-Air Thoughts About The Art Of On-The-Air Interviews

Have you ever just turned on the TV and watched — really watched — how the cable news channels discuss issues? I’ve been paying close attention lately, and I sure hope our youth of today are doing the same … and see exactly how the supposed “adults in the room” go about it.

Intelligent discussion and debate? Not-t-t!

The first thing you’ll note is that when candidates’ spokespeople are asked to comment, the program’s moderator either doesn’t have a microphone cutoff switch or has never been taught to use it.

The sad thing is that those who come on the air to speak for the intelligent candidate — not Trump — usually get it right. When they do, the spokesperson for the opposing candidate  — that would be Trump —  jumps in, interferes and tries to divert attention away from the legitimate subject to something else.

If they were going one-on-one, that rude and juvenile approach might be appropriate. But when yap, shout and hurl insults, the moderator ought to cut their mic off!

In viewing interviews of Trump’s various representatives, you’ll note a pattern. When factual matters are raised, his people jump in to talk over both the moderator and the other panelists. That’s just wrong. It simply makes the media look foolish. The audience gets lost in the uproar. No one should accept that as legitimate debate and legitimate interviewing.

Broadcast network news is not much better. It may, in fact, be worse. Take your Sunday morning news shows, where the hosts usually interview candidates separately and one-on-one. Most spokespeople and candidates do rather well in this format … except for the Trumpster type.

The hosts routinely catch Trump with his political and factual pants down. Once they snare him and go in for the kill, though, he starts interrupting: “excuse me. Excuse me! EXCUSE ME!” Then he diverts the subject to something else completely. The worst part is that the media news hosts let him get away with it. And then they don’t follow up.

This DJT tactic, almost always successful, is going to give me a stroke if the dummies don’t work up the courage to take him on.

Here’s how I’d run the interview:

Me: Mr. Trump let’s talk about Trump University and your personal involvement. The ads stated that you would “personally select and vouch for the ability of the instructors.” Did you?

Trump (interrupting): Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me … thousands of people signed affidavits that they were satisfied with ….”

Then I’d cut off his mic.

Me: If you don’t understand the question, say so. Don’t divert us to another issue because every time you do, I’m going to cut off your mic. Understood? So … did you vouch for ….”

Trump (interrupting): I told you thousands of …”

Then I’d cut off both mics. The audio feed goes dead.

Me (off the air): Listen, you goddammed moron, was I that difficult to understand? Either answer the question I asked, admit you don’t know the answer, or shut the hell up.

Trump: Do you know who I am? I am the richest man on the planet! You can’t talk to me like that. I have friends in high places! I’ll cost you your job.

Me: Oh yeah? Well, Mark Cuban is a friend of mine, he’s worth more than you, and he says you’re a damned lying jerk. Mr. Trump, we’re running short of time. We’ve had our mics shut off more than they’ve been on, and my sponsors are going to get irritated. Did ….” (interrupted by Trump)

Trump: Why won’t you let me talk about my affidavits?

Me (still off air): I’m running this show, Donny. As of this moment, you are permanently off air. (Then I’d instruct Security to remove Trump from the studio.)

Me (back on the air): Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for the delay and the fact that Mr. Trump had another commitment … to a mental institution. There’s always the slight possibility that when he’s released, he’ll return. Perhaps by then, he’ll have learned how to define a question and formulate an answer to it. We might even invite his wives and girlfriends and the lady who has just sued him for rape to the show, just to make the show entertaining. Have a great weekend!

Now, on a completely different note …

I have a 12- or 16-foot fishing boat that had a 9.5 horsepower Johnson outboard as power. “Had.” Last week, on a very windy day, one of my grandchildren took a friend out for a ride in it. Once they realized how high the waves were, they decided to change direction and get the heck out of there.

Now, I wasn’t in the boat, but this is what I’ve been told. Those waves were very big, and the boat kept bobbing up and down. On one of its upswings, the motor took a downswing — right off the back. My grandson, who is lucky he is alive and still has all his parts, valiantly grabbed the handle (which, by the way, was still running because it hadn’t yet come loose from the gas line).

Thank God, he wasn’t injured. But needless to say, said the motor tore loose from said gas line and departed from said boat to land somewhere on the bottom of said lake.

The poor kids walked the entire shoreline from the spot where the incident occurred to our cottage, where they stumbled in. We hopped on my pontoon, crossed the lake and pulled the fishing boat back to our dock.

Next day, a search party equipped with drag lines went out to seek the body of the late motor … no luck.

Mostly as a joke, I posted the story on Facebook and asked if anyone had diving experience. To my absolute amazement, some certified divers with locator equipment live on my lake … and they have volunteered to see if they can find it, gratis..

I’m told that since this is a small motor, chances are better than 50:50 it might work if we find it and clean it up. I can only hope. I’ve owned that old motor longer than any other mechanical item to my name, and while it’s old, it really worked. Stay tuned for a report on the results of the salvage operation.

And one more story in honor of Independence Day:

Many moons ago, on one fine July 4 evening, with the moon shining bright reflected on the still surface of the lake … it was a perfect evening for fireworks. My eldest son, who shall remain nameless (let’s just call him Greg), was on the end of our dock along with his brother, our two sons-in-law and a big box of fireworks.

My wife noticed Greg walking off the dock with a funny look on his face, followed by one son-in-law, then taking off on a dead run, just as our second son-in-law bailed into the lake. It seemed something — a punk, perhaps — had fallen into the fireworks bag and set it on fire. Fireworks starting exploding in every direction! Youngest son, who shall remain nameless (Ron), beat everyone to safety.

Things happened so fast that we oldsters didn’t have a chance to do or say anything till it was all over. Glad no one was hurt … but it was one of the best fireworks displays we’ve ever witnessed.

I’m not into commercials, but if you want to watch first-class national interviews, watch CNN’s “Reliable Sources” — the best of the best every week. Until next week — amen.

2 thoughts on “TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Off-The-Air Thoughts About The Art Of On-The-Air Interviews”

  • Jared Nikle July 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Outstanding interview Tom. It left Trump speechless for once. Good thing you could shutdown his mic. Lol

    1. Judge Thomas A. Davies (retired) July 7, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      I can only hope Jared.


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