Best Prepared Interviewer on TV

When it comes to interviewing people, there have been some great folks along the way.  Most recently a number of people lauded the late Tim Russert as THE top person in the game for his relentless, pointed style of not letting some politician evade a question by just spouting talking points.  When someone tried to “pound sand up his rear”, Russert would “go to the video tape” and let the politician’s own words hang him.  It was always so sweet to see that happen.

Having said that, I can say I’ve watched a master interviewer off and on over the last two weeks and while I’ve thought he was one of the best and most prepared interviewers for some time, I’ve finally decided he is the best I’ve seen working the TV gig. His name: Jon Stewart of the Daily Show.  During the last two weeks of the Daily Show’s coverage of the Democratic and Republican conventions, Jon Stewart has skewered the blowhards on both sides of the fence.  Actually he usually let’s the blowhards do it to themselves with videotape.  The Daily Show must have one of the best research departments in the news business (yes I said news business) because if a politician makes a statement and then makes a comment that is 180 degrees from that original comment, TDS folks can track it down.  The only other news operation that came close to that was Meet The Press.  I’ve never understood why I didn’t see more of that on the cable news shows which seem to be too busy being partial to one political side or the other.  Stewart just bores into the heart of the matter.  Plus, when he’s conducting an interview especially with a politician,  Stewart’s B-S detector must be on maximum because when someone tries to dazzle him with b-s, he just wades right through it and still makes his point.  Plus, unlike conventional news shows, he does it with humor, making his point and disarming the guest who started the b-s in the first place.  That’s not to say that JS doesn’t suck-up to some of his guests.  I was disappointed when the leader of Pakistan (Pervez Musharraf) appeared on his show about a year or so ago and JS (IMHO) basically played pattycake with him.  I was expecting JS to take him to task about human rights issues but he didn’t.  Maybe international politics isn’t his thing but he can sure carry his own on the national level.  I cannot begin to imagine what must be going through a politician’s mind when he agrees to go on TDS other than the fact that they know they’re liable to be skewered and they are doing it (appearing on the TDS) because they know they are reaching an audience (younger) that they otherwise would not be able to reach.  They also must know they’re about to walk into a lion’s den where the great beast will make them laugh just before they get devoured.

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One Comment on “Best Prepared Interviewer on TV”

  1. jamey Says:

    I don’t have a habit of watching TDS but do tune in when I’m flipping through the channels. My question about them using the clips from MSNBC, FOX, CNN and the rest of the networks is this:
    do they get permission to use the clips? Do they have a standing agreement with the networks? Or is it fair use? I’ll have to watch the clips again to see if there’s a courtesy super or font.

    I’m really curious and hope someone can answer that question.

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