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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The "Evasive Answer Accepted" Fnord

I was watching the Communism Channel (Bloomberg) and noticed another new evil fnord.

The reporter was interviewing the CEO of AIG. The reporter asked "Why does the government have to bailout AIG? Why not just allow AIG to declare bankruptcy, and then the government can guarantee the creditors/policyholders in bankruptcy court?" (For example, if AIG's assets are enough to pay creditors 50% of the amount owed, then the government can reimburse creditors for the difference.) Naturally, the CEO gave an evasive answer.

There's one "merit" of "direct bailout" instead of "bailout via bankruptcy". When the State bails out AIG, giving it $100B+, AIG does not have to account how that money is spent. The money is spent on "creditors". If there was a bailout via bankruptcy, then it would be 100% public who is actually receiving bailout money. Suppose AIG owes $50B to Goldman Sachs. If AIG receives a $50B bailout, then Goldman Sachs is the actual recipient of the bailout. Executives at Goldman Sachs, if they were dumb enough to lend AIG money, deserve to lose their money. In a bailout via bankruptcy, it would be obvious who are the actual direct recipients of bailout money.

The CEO gave an evasive answer to the question. Instead of saying, "Answer the question, ***hole!", the reporter moved on to the next question. The reporter accepted the evasive answer as a valid answer to her question. The reporter was not really interviewing the CEO. The interviewer was reading from a script of questions prepared in advance. The interviewer moved on to the next question on the list, even when the CEO gave an evasive answer.

This is an evil fnord I hadn't noticed before. By accepting an evasive answer, the reporter is saying "Your evasive response is a valid answer to my question."

Suppose you're the type of person who asks tough questions, and is persistent when an evasive answer is given. Then, you *DON'T* get asked to interview CEOs and politicians. Whenever a mainstream media reporter interviews a politician or CEO, the interviewer is reading from a list of questions approved in advance. Even if there are some tough questions on the list, the interviewee gives an evasive answer, and the interviewer just moves on to the next question. This is an evil fnord.

The interviewer can't afford to ask tough questions and be persistent. If they were persistent, then they would be fired by their corporate employer. They might no longer be able to get "hot" guests like a high-profile politician or CEO. The interviewer is more eager for "access" to prominent interviewees, rather than conducting an honest interview.

My favorite persistent interviewer is Jan Helfeld. I wonder how he successfully lines up interviews with prominent politicians? I expect he would be blacklisted.

When the interviewer accepts an evasive answer, there's an evil fnord that says "The evasive response was a valid answer to my question."


Anonymous said...


I just watched than hansfield interview. I don't think he'll continue to get interviews with such prominent folks. It's sort of like John Stossel. If he wants to interview you, then most likely your in trouble.

Anonymous said...

Another thing I've noticed is that reporters will seem quite confrontational and willing to ask difficult questions when confronting spokesmen for other countries that the u.s. government "has issues with".

It's like reporters feel they have to play the watch/attack dog role, but the only time they are actually free to play this part, is when ultimately doing the bidding of U.S. government. So they confront these world leaders and feign being attack dogs, but they're on the leash of the biggest bully of them all: uncle sam.

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