Saturday, May 31, 2008

The McClellan Interview: One Of Anderson Cooper's Best Interviews Ever

Hi everybody. No, this isn't a regular review. I'm not quite up to that yet. But after watching tonight's 360 I just had to make a post. Okay, I haven't seen every interview Anderson Cooper has ever done, so I'm probably not qualified to say that tonight was one of his best ever, but damn did he bring it! Before my absence due to the whole almost dying thing, 360 had been feeling pretty stale. Not tonight. That was some good television. What can I say? I'm a sucker for hard questions and people being held accountable.

The passion and toughness Anderson brought to the table was quite the contrast to my other tv news boyfriend's time with McClellan. Keith Olbermann basically gave him a big wet kiss. I wasn't expecting the confrontational performance I knew Anderson to be capable of (apparently Keith doesn't due controversy unless he can do it when the person's not there), but geez. It's going to be really sad if Jon Stewart ends up being harder on McClellan (booked for Monday!) than Keith.

There were many great portions of the 360 interview, but in terms of me having a comment, I want to highlight this one:
AC: SO YOU, IN YOUR MIND, WHEN YOU’RE IN THAT BUBBLE, OR BUNKER AS YOU SAID, YOU CAN JUSTIFY EVERYTHING YOU’RE DOING BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE YOUR POSITION IS RIGHT AND YOU’RE FIGHTING OFF, EVERYONE ELSE IS PLAYING PARTISAN POLITICS BUT WHEN YOU’RE IN THE BUBBLE, YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS REALLY RIGHT.

SM: no, you’re engaged and you have your partisan hat on. and that’s the problem. that’s the problem, that we’re all focused on trying to manipulate the narrative to our advantage and we lose sight of the importance of how we can work together through deliberation and compromise.

AC: I THINK THAT WILL SHOCK PEOPLE BECAUSE YOU’RE ACTUALLY A CIVIL SERVANT. YOU’RE A CIVIL SERVANT. YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE A POLITICAL PARTISAN.

Are there really that many people left that are shocked about them being political partisans? Bueller? I don't know about anyone else, but I've known this and not believed a word they've said for years now. The newsworthy thing about this book is not that it says anything most of us didn't already know anyway; it's who wrote it.

As for McClellan, I have to hand it to the guy. He stayed pretty cool under some fierce grilling from Anderson. Much cooler than during the press conferences I remember watching. Scotty, as I lovingly called him, has always been my favorite Bush Press Secretary because he was just so dang fun to watch. Don't get me wrong, his robotic and repetitive regurgitation of talking points, was beyond frustrating, but you kind of had to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Not to mention the fact that he constantly looked like he wished he would just spontaneously combust right there. Now THAT would have been a headline. Plus after press conferences there was always the added fun of the "The Scotty Show."

And it's because of the difference between his behavior and body language back then and his relaxed demeaner in the face of hard questions now, that I actually think I believe him. I think I believe almost his whole story. It seems to me he was a true believer who slowly realized he was being used. If I had to guess, I'd say he started having his suspicions in 2005, which was when I really noticed that he seemed to be near tears half the time. Should he have left the job sooner? Sure, but I think he has been sincere in his answer regarding that question and he's definitely not the only one guilty of this. Although just because he's now sounding like a liberal doesn't mean I'm suddenly a McClellan fan. I'll always have doubts about him. I'll always have doubts about anyone in politics. If there's one thing the Bush Administration has given my generation, it's cynicism.

Anyway, great job Anderson! Be proud. And let's see more of that fired up attitude!

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree,I think this was an excellent interview!

Seeing this last night,and the tough questions,as well as the parts regarding Katrina,took me back to Anderson's exchange with Mary Landrieu back in 2005.

No one does them better than Anderson,IMO.

I just wish that he would get back to more ''field work'',though.
I miss his Reporter's Notebooks as well.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Pati Mc said...

Well, Eliza, it was like you were inside my head last night and you said it perfectly. I totally agree with everything in your post. Well said.

Frankly I am happy to see that I am not the only one who always enjoyed watching "Scotty". In spite of the trust issue, I always did feel that he was considerably more sincere and down to earth than the rest of those guys.

Add me to the list of those who are proud of Anderson and his handling of the interview. Although there are a lot of negative comments in regard to him interrupting" Scotty, I feel that he did what he had to do to stop any pandering and get on with things.

I had one thought as Anderson grew increasingly feisty in his questionning - to me, he went all "Mike Wallace" on Scotty. That was fantastic in my estimation!

Yes, you go Anderson! Hopefully we will see more of this hard reporting from him in the future. He rocked it!

One last thing - I agree with Anon 9:29 - greatly looking forward to him hitting the road this summer. We have gone without him in the field for what seems like "ever".

Take care Eliza, please be well and thanks for the awesome post.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eliza, I hope this feels you feeling better and on the road to recovery.

Yes I agree with everybody here. Anderson did a fantastic job of interviewing McClellan. You can tell that Anderson had really read the whole book and he was fired up about the questions he was asking. Wish we would see him this fired up on other issues.

I also agree with everyone here, I am ready to see field Anderson as well.

Take care

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there's one thing the Bush Administration has given my generation, it's cynicism.

Sad, but true, and extremely well said.

I'll join in on the chorus here and say that I think this was one of Anderson's better interviews of all time, easily. So did this blogger at the Huffington Post.

He seems pretty hard on himself, so I hope he sees all the wonderful things people have been saying about the job he did. God knows he deserves it this time.

1:01 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@anonymous 9:29 AM--The Landrieu interview will always be my favorite, but it was different in that I don't think Anderson had any idea he was going to say those things to her before it started. The McClellan interview, on the other hand, was excellently researched with stellar execution.

I miss his field work too. Besides his recent quick trip to New Orleans (and he barely even covered the city when he was there), I can't even remember the last time he was live from the field. I guess I could check my own blog. ;) It seems like he's done a lot less traveling (for 360 anyway) over the last year or so.

@pati mc--So it seems "Scotty" might actually have a conscience. At least one of them does. Man, I never thought I'd be saying I believed anything that man said, given how obvious it was that every thing he said as press secretary was BS, yet here I am.

Yeah, I read some of those negative comments. Anderson does have a tendency to be interrupty sometimes, but you kind of have to be to get people off their talking points. I didn't think his interruptions with McClellan were egregious at all. He did a great job.

I had one thought as Anderson grew increasingly feisty in his questionning - to me, he went all "Mike Wallace" on Scotty.

I had a similar thought, though the interviewer that popped in my mind was Scott Pelly. Perhaps his "60 Minutes" colleagues have been giving him interview tips.

@anonymous 12:50 PM--Add me to the list of those who love to see Anderson fired up. Man, imagine him doing an interview like that with Cheney. Of course, he'd probably just shoot him afterwards. Heh.

@anonymous 1:01 AM-This blogger, you say? Orly? ;)

Yeah, he seems like the type that lies in bed at night and obsesses over things, so hopefully he won't let the ever-present haters kill his interview high. My readers know I'd be the first to point out if he blew it, but this time he deserves nothing but praise.

2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did nobody notice that Wolf Blitzer already did this interview?

5:24 PM  

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