Here is how you interview a politician who doesn’t want to stop to answer questions on something he has done. NY1 reporter, Jeevan Vittal tried to get answers out of Senator Rand Paul who blocked the swift passage of a bill funding medical care for 9/11 first responders.
Paul got nasty, but Vittal did not give up and neither did his photographer.
Our @JVittalTV on Thursday questioned Kentucky Senator Rand Paul about his objection to an attempt to quickly pass a bill ensuring the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund never runs out of money. Here is video of their exchange. pic.twitter.com/Dxx3yEnGlp
I opened my Twitter to find a smiling Geraldo Rivera posing with President Trump on midterm election day. Rivera claimed he had a “private” moment with the president in Cleveland, but it was so “private” he had to post it for the world to see on Twitter.
Photos like this send the wrong message. What did it say to the public? His critics on Twitter believe the veteran journalist is bias and a supporter of the Republican Party. Rivera may disagree, but as the cliché goes “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Rivera knows better. He allowed his ego to get in the way of his job as a journalist. He had to let everyone know he was hanging out with his buddy on midterm election day. It also doesn’t help that he works at Fox News that leans to the right.
We’re only a few days away from election day and political candidates are still beating the pavement for votes. If you’re one of many journalists assigned to the political beat, you know that balance matters in your story. No matter how you may feel about any specific politician including the president, it is our job to have balanced political coverage and reporting. It’s different if you’re a TV or radio commentator or opinion editor. They can say what they want and take a side.
Now to my point.
I have seen several reporters in Texas who make it obvious they are Beto O’Rourke supporters. They take selfies with him and post them on their social media. It seems like something very innocent to do, but you may be sending his opponent’s press team the idea that you are bias. That you have a favorite. I have also seen a few journalists take selfies with Senator Ted Cruz.
It’s an issue several news directors have told me they are dealing with today. Reporters who can’t stop taking selfies with politicians, especially those running for office. I know news managers who have pulled reporters off election/political coverage, because of a photo or because the opponent’s side has brought it to management’s attention. They will demand a reporter be taken off the story. That selfie with a candidate sends the message “you like him/her better than our candidate.”
I’m not saying don’t take photos with politicians, but don’t post them. Don’t think because you post a photo on your private Facebook that it remains private. A photo of you interviewing a candidate or politician is fine, because you’re on the job. Your post to your readers, viewers or listeners can be you promoting your story with the politician.
We have to work smart, because the media is being judged more today than ever before.
A reporter on Media Buzz (Fox News) said 12 reporters have lost their jobs this year because of bias political tweets. That’s another issue.
So what do you say to a political candidate when he or she wants to take a photo with you? Politely decline. I have had politicians ask to take a photo with me and I always turned them down politely, “Sorry I can’t, I’m on the job, but feel free to have someone on your staff take photos of us during the interview or while we’re talking. That’s fine.” I have interviewed Clinton, Carter, Bush, and even the late Ronald Reagan. I don’t have any photos with them, but I do have the video. That’s good enough.
Dana Loesch, the NRA’s spokeswoman is paid big bucks by the organization to defend it. I understand that it is her job to “spin” information and protect the image of the National Rifle Association.
Once again Loesch did her job by moving the focus of the Parkland, Florida school massacre and the gun control issue from the NRA to the media. This time Loesch said the media “loves” mass shootings for ratings.
It’s called spin. Her spin.
I have covered too many murders in my 36 years as a reporter that I have lost count. They are the most difficult assignments to cover. I have only been to one mass shooting, but a death is a death.
I have shed tears on assignment, because it hurts to see people hurt. On the other hand I know that I have a job where I can help people understand, cope, and sometimes solve murders. I have never covered a murder for ratings. In fact, television viewers have often told me they turn the channel, because they are tired of hearing “bad news.”
Now please listen Anastasiya Bolton. She’s a crime and justice reporter in Denver. She has a strong and powerful message to the NRA. “I’m an expert in mass shootings. I’m a journalists in a war zone here at home.” >> Commentary: I’m an expert in mass shootings
Let’s be honest, Dana Loesch found her way to get more TV time and ratings by making a malicious statement. As journalists we can take it. She won’t be the first “talking head” to attack us for our work and definitely not the last.
When you visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, you can see up close why it is considered the holiest place for prayer by the Jewish people. I was there last week during a journalism fellowship with Fuenta Latina, a nonprofit that educates reporters about Israel today.
Every year, millions of Jews from all over the world visit the wall to pray. Tourists who are non-Jews also visit the wall to pay their respects. Men and women pray in separate sections.
Next week when President Donald Trump goes to Israel he will make a stop at the Western Wall. He will be the first U.S. sitting President to do so. Other presidents have visited the sacred wall but as private citizens.
People in Jerusalem I talked to are curious to learn more about the billionaire turn reality star turn U.S. President. From hotel clerks to taxi drivers they told me they look forward to Trump’s visit to Israel. but wonder if he will create more chaos than peace.
Trump is already getting bad press in Israel because it appears he has snubbed Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli TV Channel 2 is reporting that Trump’s delegation has not only turned down Netanyahu’s request to go with Trump to the wall but also someone from the delegation insulted Israeli officials claiming the wall was not Israeli Territory.
Tuesday National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster at a White House briefing confirmed “No Israeli leaders will join President Trump at the Western Wall.” McMaster would not confirm or deny whether Trump believed the Western Wall was not Israeli territory when asked by reporters.
The wall is the only remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Israelis seized the Western Wall in the Old City from the Jordanians, along with East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, and it is not officially recognized internationally as Israeli territory.
Rebecca Aguilar is an award-winning freelance reporter with 35 years experience. She was part of the May 2017 Fuenta Latina Fellowship to Israel.
A good journalist does not allow anyone to set the ground rules for an interview or meeting. And we do our best to avoid “off-the-record” conversations.
Our job as reporters is to get the facts and share them with the public. You can’t do that if you agree to go “off-the-record” which means you can’t share anything you talked about during that discussion.
TRUMP HAD HIS WAY WITH TV JOURNALISTS
On Monday, President-elect Donald Trump had his way with some of the best TV journalists and their bosses. They were suckered into a meeting where they became his punching bags.
I watched on a live feed as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett, NBC’s Lester Holt, CBS’s Gayle King, Charlie Rose, Norah O’Donnell, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos arrived to Trump Tower. According to the New York Post the meeting turned into a Trump tirade. He was finally facing the people he called “scum and liars” on the campaign trail. He took the opportunity on his turf to let them know what he thought of them and according to sources it was ugly.
I am disappointed they agreed to have an “off-the-record” meeting with the President-elect. What were they thinking? What happened to digging for the truth, standing up for journalism, and not taking his abuse anymore.
All these high-profile TV news anchors, reporters and managers missed a big opportunity to stand together as journalists and tell Mr. Trump that we won’t be humiliated, berated, intimidated, or bullied for doing our jobs. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe one of the TV anchors or reporters was brave enough to speak up for journalists in that meeting, but I guess we’ll never know since it was “off the record.”
Donald Trump played the media. Here’s hoping those high-profile TV news anchors and reporters don’t get suckered by him again in the future.
MORE ON TV JOURNALISTS AND TRUMP
Here’s a video worth watching.
Washington Post media columnists Erik Wemple and Margaret Sullivan talk about the meeting between the TV journalists and Trump, and how the broadcasters and their bosses should have known better.
Gabriel Abaroa the president and CEO of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences told reporters that presenters, nominees and winners were never discouraged to talk about their political stand at the Latin Grammy Awards on Thursday.
But the same didn’t go for the media.
Gaby Natale the creator and host of SuperLatina was covering the event. She posted on Facebook that Grammy organizers told the press not to ask the celebrities any questions about politics.
After the awards, she and other entertainment reporters wanted answers from the president of the Academy.
He said the nominees and presenters always do what they want when they perform, say what they want during their acceptance speeches and that type of freedom has never changed. Albaroa admitted he was concerned the Latin Grammys would be perceived as political that could have financial ramifications.
Here’s Gaby’s video:
I’ve translated some of Abaroas statements:
(:30) “We try to concentrate on the music and what happened today. And if you believe the Academy should take a position politically over a topic, we’ll think about it, consult about it, and talk about….”
(1:39) “We did not talk with any artist or told them what they should or shouldn’t say during their acceptance (speech). We’ve never done that and never will”
(2:32) “If we establish ourselves as a political platform, we can do it in the country that we live in… but remember we are international. ”
(3:07) “When we are here (press room) we are trying to help them focus on the music and the awards…”
Whether covering a political race or a red carpet event, as reporters we should never be told how to do our job. Thank you Gaby Natale for speaking up on this issue.
We start our day with President-elect Donald Trump. For those who supported him. Congratulations. For those who did not, wipe off those tears and remember your rights as Americans still exist.
But this is now a very divided country. We know that. It will be Trump’s job to figure out a way to bring all Americans together. As people of color there is a fear. Do we regress to what we had in the 1950’s or will Donald Trump figure out a way to unite us?
As women we also have our fears. Do we lose our rights to stand on an equal platform or do men feel a win for Trump means a pass to grope us when they want? Yes, that’s a valid concern after hearing the Access Hollywood tape.
LET FEAR FUEL YOUR PASSION TO DO THE RIGHT THING
But now is not the time to allow fear to hold you back. Use that fear to fuel your passion to do what is right for this country. One man, one political party, one election does not take away our voice, our strength, our power as Americans.
It hasn’t been easy for journalists either, but we still have a job to do. Learn from the journalists who covered the Trump campaign. Often they endured verbal attacks from Trump and his supporters but kept pushing forward, seeking the facts. We need to continue asking the tough questions of our President-elect as we have done with past individuals voted into office.
Donald Trump has four years to prove himself and keep those promises he made to his supporters. The clock starts now.