June 9, 2009

how it's done

This interview with Barney Frank has got to be one of the best examples of how to respond to leading questions I've ever seen. The man is a bulldog: every time the interviewer tries to get him to broaden his claim that Scalia is a homophobe to a claim that people who oppose same-sex marriage are homophobes, he returns to his original point and explains why it's not the one the interviewer is attributing to him.

It's old news, obviously - I wrote something about it ages ago, and was reminded of it when I saw GQ's interview with Frank. He does the same thing: the reporter asks why bonuses and pay on Wall St are back up, Frank explains that although he'd prefer they stayed low that's not how the system works, and the reporter pushes him, saying it's a crappy way for the system to work. Frank says,

"I have to have one rule: If you want me to explain something, and if you’re gonna assume that when I explain it I support it, then I can’t explain it to you."
The other thing he does is that when he decides what he's saying, he sticks to it. If the reporter kept pushing him that way, I have no doubt that Frank would have said, hey, I'm not talking about this any more. He has near-perfect control over whatever message he's putting out. It's a hard skill to master.

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