Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Now you're asking

BBC interviewers like nothing better than displaying how clever they are by asking the question which they know a politician cannot answer.  Last night on Newsnight Emily Maitlis tried to get Chloe Smith, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, to admit that the government has a Plan B in case Plan A doesn't work, as the IMF report may suggest.   This is the forward-looking version of "Have you stopped beating your wife ?".  You can't answer Yes or No.  If Chloe said Yes, then Emily would have come back with "So plan A isn't working !".  If Chloe said No, then Emily would have asked why the government was so over-confident and ill-prepared.  Chloe Smith handled it fairly well but Emily wouldn't move on.  She had her game plan and pushed the dilemma again and again.    I have heard John Humphries waste a whole interview on this technique with the net result - no new information for the listener but the politician looks shifty.
Here's how the West Wing's Josh Lyman handled the same problem and invented the President's secret plan to fight inflation:

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