Sunday, October 30, 2005

Pulling American Talking Heads Off-Script

Caught one segment of CBC News Sunday this morning as I was making breakfast. They did a couple of things that made me chuckle. First, they did a segment on satire and one of the guests was Christopher Hitchens. I'm not sure if he knew that that's how the segment was going to be framed and went along anyway because he's got that addiction to having his face on television that a lot of U.S. pundits have, or if it was a bait-and-switch on the part of the producers. It was still pretty funny to have him next to a goofy satirist with no claims to seriousness.

During the course of the interview the topic of the CIA leak case came up (background here) Hitchens, being the actor playing the part of the right-winger, did the usual dance and said “This is of course the biggest non-story of the past three years.”

Now, on American television that would be accepted as fact, that in right-wingistan that's simply a given, so of course he would say that. But one of the hosts, Carole MacNeil, obviously wasn't versed on proper care and feeding of conservatarian talking heads, and said “non story??” in an honestly surprised tone.

That halted the discussion in much the same way as had she pointed out that his fly was open. He simply wasn't expecting to have to explain how U.S. Administration officials could be going to jail over a ‘non-story’.

To his credit, Hitchens was a little less unreasonably one-sided than he normally is on American media. Maybe because Evan Soloman gave him a pretty cushy hour-long interview on Hot Type a couple of years ago so he considered the show friendly territory. He looked a lot less like the sputtering curmudgeon than he did on the Daily Show a few weeks ago. (video here)

All that being said, I am still sensing a tendency on the part of CBC to simply have one person from one side of an issue and one person from another side and let them state their messages without any deep or probing questions being asked of either, and limitting the chances for the guests to directly challenge each other. Unfortunately if you're a producer it's much easier to string together quicck and dirty segments i this fashion than it is to foster actual reporting, so I'm sorried that it's a slippery slope that will be hard to climb up from.
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By al - 12:06 PM |

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