WNYC’s weekly On the Media is one of the better NPR shows. Rather than pretending its public radio biases didn’t exist, the program embraces its smug liberalness with a joie de vivre and pretty smart interviewing. And knowing smugness, co-host Bob Garfield was the perfect interviewer last week to take on Lou Dobbs, who is comfortable in his own fame, brilliance and intuitive understanding of Middle America.
BOB GARFIELD: Now, [CNN] network president, Jonathan Klein, has said to The New York Times that, in essence, that the Dobbs approach will only be on the Dobbs show. And presumably he means that it would never fly on Wolf Blitzer’s show or Paula Zahn’s show.
LOU DOBBS: Well, they’re quite different people than I am, as you know.
BOB GARFIELD: I understand. But why should you have a different set of journalistic standards applying to you?
LOU DOBBS: Well, immodestly, let me say one of the reasons would be my experience, my education, my analysis of the issues and the empirical evidence, and a demonstrated record of, frankly, of knowing what I’m talking about.
Uh, huh. “Immodestly.” More of the same follows, with Garfield trying to figure just what value is of the on-line polls Dobbs conducts, and whether he’s a modern-day Father Coughlin inflaming the masses on immigration and other matters. Useful insight into an immodest host.
Also useful is the follow-up interview Garfield conducts with Andrea Batista Schlesinger of the left-wing Drum Major Institute. Ms. Batista Schlesinger is surely more hip to the reality of TV blow-hard shows than she lets on, right?
ANDREA BATISTA SCHLESINGER: So when I got on the show, he introduced me right from the start as a leading critic of his border control policy, and essentially the show went downhill from there.
The first question, and I don’t know if this is typical of journalists, but the first question was something to the effect of what’s wrong with, or doesn’t it make sense that? And that was basically, you know, the tenor of the interview, that he has the monopoly on what makes sense.
I mean, he was not interested in actually hearing what I had to say. He was interested in explaining what he had to say as if it were the most commonsense thing that everybody would agree upon.
I thought I was going on that show to have a serious conversation that, you know, weighed the pros and the cons of immigration policies that are on the table. Instead, I was a foil for a lecture on the difference between a Hispanic and an immigrant, which, as a Hispanic and the daughter of an immigrant, I found very enlightening. It wasn’t a conversation. I had about 30 seconds to make my case.
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