Let me start here: I haven’t decided yet whether I’m for Hillary or against her, on that decision, I’ll let you know. But here’s something I am against: the theater and self-aggrandizement of gotcha journalism. And that is what NPR’s Terry Gross was doing in her recent interview with the former First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State and possible presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
National Public Radio’s Terry Gross has been around for a long time. In a medium that chews the successful up and spits them out faster than you can say the same, there is no question that Ms. Gross is smarter, better prepared than most talk radio hosts, clearly intelligent, and quick on her feet, all admirable qualities.
But she is considered part of the liberal echo chamber and Clinton is one of her own. So why was she pecking away at her guest, Ms. Clinton, she the host of public radio’s “Fresh Air” broadcast on the network considered the darling of the left?
Was she trying to prove a lack of partisanship? Trying to prove she was a tough journalist? Really, what was it she was trying to prove? Because, had she grilled the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton on say, Benghazi, perhaps that would have been justified. Instead, what she went after Ms. Clinton for was not the issue of gay marriage, but something ridiculous.
Hillary Clinton, like many Americans of a certain age, was against gay marriage before she was for it. And yet Gross, as I said, no dummy, decided to use the fact to goad (who invented that word?) her guest, if not corner her. Gross was like a buzzard picking at its prey, picking, picking, picking at Ms. Clinton, obviously trying to get her to admit (as if she evah would) that the only reason she was now for gay marriage was for political gain. Even if partly true, would that make Clinton different than any other politician? Relentless, Gross sought carnage, and failed to listen to the former Senator’s consistently honest and direct answers to Gross’ unyielding and absurd line of questioning.
Of course, when a journalist is looking for theater and self-aggrandizement there is no listening, nor stopping them, and no matter what Clinton answered, Gross was not interested in hearing, proving even the best of us can fall prey to our own ambitions from time to time.
And in this talk radio hosts opinion, that is exactly what happened to Terry Gross when she engaged in gotcha journalism with the presumed presidential candidate, the same Mrs. Clinton.
Unlike the scribes of the right wing media who went all goo-goo, ga-ga crazy, I cannot characterize Clinton’s response to Gross’ peck, peck, peck as “testy” or say she “snapped” or “lost her cool.” In fact, the reality was that Ms. Clinton was the model for poise under fire. I did not, in fact, detect so much as a note of defensiveness in Clinton’s voice, as many of us would have been reduced to under Gross’ cawing. Rather, I detected a note of surprise in Ms Clinton’s tone. Clearly, she expected more from the Queen of Public Radio and the liberal echo chamber, Ms. Gross.
I know I did.