My friends, I am happy to report that the beauty of the interview remains intact. Christine O’Donnell’s appearance (and timely disappearance upon being “pulled away”) on Piers Morgan Tonight last Wednesday not only had me in a mixture of gleeful incredulity and grateful pause, but indicates that journalism, in its greatest purity, may still be effective in keeping our people free and safe.
In a country that prides itself on the freedom of the press to run whatever it is they see as being “accurate” (now, thanks to technology, in a more prolific manner than ever before), it is not a stretch to say that this over-saturation fosters an environment where quality information might get lost due to the easiness with which we are presented, and receive, this information.
And it does get lost. Our connection to information has been devalued by mobile notifications, Tweets written by press people, and an American Apathy birthed of a schizophrenic slew of news organizations pandering agendas and interchangeable commentators barking viewpoints. We don’t look for our news anymore, for the in-our-face facade of access to the nitty-gritty has led us to believe that not only are we well-informed, but that we actually give a crap about what’s going on.
And everyone loves a complacent citizenry.
This is why last Wednesday’s televised interview by Piers Morgan, journalist, television presenter, and, according to O’ Donnell as subsequently purported on her Twitter and during other news appearances, a “cheeky bugger,” struck like broadcast gold.
It doesn’t so much have to do with the inevitable fact that O’Donnell’s avoidant demeanor can, and has, been used as additional evidence to damage her credibility (albeit, that part of a media flub is always entertaining), or even the idea that Morgan is a spectacular journalist crusading for the skewering of difficult interviewees (frankly, Morgan is not the only journalist who has demonstrated persistence; he just happens to sit in front of a video camera on an expensive set which was paid for by a money-making résumé).
Rather, it is a significant occurrence because the organic nature of the interview as a journalistic tool creates the type of current event that people can easily understand due to the accessibility of conversational language, and thus, pay attention to. Further, the nature of this particular event, by no means as easygoing as Howard Stern talking to “Little Lupe” about the adult film industry, implicitly and explicitly redefines the responsibilities of the journalist and the politician to the American people, who are entitled to politicians who will act in their best interests, and journalists who will protect those interests by making sure that’s what’s actually happening.
Tea Party darling Christine O’Donnell found herself at Piers Morgan Tonight for one of many appearances made in promotion of her new publication, Troublemaker: Let’s Do What It Takes to Make America Great Again, released earlier this week.
It started innocently enough, the typically incendiary Morgan asking O’Donnell why she made the sign of the cross before the start of the interview, only to claim relief upon her answer because he “was expecting some kind of devil worshipping sign,” a reference to O’Donnell’s 1999 televised talk show admission to having “dabbled in witchcraft as a teenager.” Morgan called the faux pas a “hiccup,” and O’Donnell then thanked him for “minimizing” it. Amiable enough; it is live television after all. Morgan then went on to play the 1999 clip, which has since been resurrected in the form of O’Donnell’s 2010 “I’m not a witch” ad, a political move she cited as being one of the Tea Party’s “self-inflicted wounds.”
By the way, I have to wonder if that word choice will be used to describe the sound bytes the Republican former Senate candidate knowingly provided CNN in her ardent defensiveness.
Anyway, in lieu of a short clip of O’Donnell on an MTV special, Morgan asked. “Do you still think masturbation is wrong?” O’Donnell responded, “Let’s not even go there,” to which Morgan made a pause and rebutted with, “Why? You went there,” referring to the aforementioned clip as well as subject matter covered in Troublemaker, O’Donnell’s own text and entire purpose for being in the studio in the first place.
This exchange colored the interview’s remainder before the inevitable stymie, Morgan “bemused” as to why O’Donnell was “being so weird,” and O’Donnell finding Morgan’s interview “a little rude.”
MORGAN: I’m baffled[…] I’m just asking questions based on your own public statements and now what you’ve written in your own book. It’s hardly rude to ask you that surely.
O’DONNELL: Well, don’t you think as a host, if I say this is what I want to talk about, that’s what we should address?
MORGAN: Not really, no. You’re a politician.
That last bit’s a zinger. The resilience at the heart of Democratic journalism remains as elegant as it ever was.
This disagreement between public figures not only proves more attractive than a high-speed car chase or Ashlee Simpson getting caught lip syncing, as per the resulting coverage, but reminds us that there are always things to know beyond the scope of what is presented, even by journalists; some of these things are not to be made easy for us to access. You have to dig for it. Because sometimes, the sources of valuable information might not want to “go there.”