And now … live from Washington …

Karl Rove may well be among the most influential political operatives in our nation’s history. Aside from all his dirty tricks, dirty-campaigning innovations, and master-minding of GWB’s “most destructive Presidency ever,” he’s providing an important impetus for the evolution of political interviewers from gullible bumpkins to shrewd reporters.

Here’s one reason why: In Rove’s appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124597241), he dodged question after question and substituted his own take on reality for the facts the rest of us all acknowledge.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s a review: http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=03&year=2010&base_name=why_its_impossible_to_intervie#comments

This may have worked at one time, but not today. Not when the “live” interview is just one stream of information among many, most of which are under the direct and instantaneous control of the once-passive-but-now-active viewer. If I don’t know what a word means, I can instantly look it up without missing a beat of the remaining interview. And if someone makes a statement, I can read all about it from a variety of sources and determine for myself whether or not that statement is true.
Eventually, we will get to the point where the “live” interview is just the tip of the pyramid, the bulk of which contains the factual basis on which it rests as well as the bickering and maneuvering and positioning by various handlers who are trying to expose or cover up various elements of that factual basis. Just as you watch a ball game, then tune in to the post-game show and read the next day’s articles to find out more about what you saw and heard, soon those of us who care enough to watch an interview will routinely dig beneath the surface to add to our understanding of and appreciation for the interview itself.

In other words, come on Fresh Air or Meet the Press and lie all you want. But don’t expect your lies to last longer than the few days it takes for a cadre of interested persons from many different political camps to research and reveal the verifiable contextual and factual record. That’s when the “live” interview transforms from an exercise in trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes into an annotated historical document that accurately reveals the interviewee’s true character, as expressed in his or her own words.

We’ll get there. And when we do, we can all look happily at one another and say: “Ain’t the media grand?”

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