Transparency

One of my Facebook friends asked me an interesting and provocative question and I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing it with you.

Jamie Selby Pillsbury I would like to hear your opinion on the story on ATC this afternoon about the reporter from the Washington Post getting bent out of shape about the question asked in the Obama press conference yesterday that was reportedly submitted by an Iranian through a social networking site. I know it is hardly the same situation, but I believe you used questions we submitted on Facebook in you interview with Crosby Stills and Nash. Care to share any of your thoughts on this?

Yes, I will gladly share. The Washington Post reporter is a fabulous columnist named Dana Milbank who gets to write a wonderfully free-wheeling column that strips away all the pretense of Washington andexposes the truth behind the public dance that Washington figures perform for the cameras. Milbank rightfully objected to President Obama and his chief-of-staff, Rahm Emmanuel, injecting a staged question into an official White House news conference involving the most unincumbered press in the world. What Obama and Emmanuel did would have been fine as a separate event—perhaps a forum titled “President Obama Answers Questions from the People of Iran.” That would have been a most interesting and bold initiative by this administration. Unfortunately, injecting it into the free give-and-take of an official White House news conference struck a sour note and it came off as a bit of theater. It did no favors for the image of Obama, the United States and its free press.

What I did was very different. I openly invited my Facebook friends to submit questions. In the featureinterview—which involvedone aging boomer interviewing three others who just happen to be rock superstars—-no official affairs of state were involved other than my soliciting the rockers’ views on the war. Al Qaeda can make what they will of the results! I told the band when I was using questions I solicited on Facebook and listeners will hear that when the interview runs. It was an experiment at interconnectivity with my listeners and I was pleased with the results. I’m not going to do it often because I’m pretty confidant of my ability to ask interetsting questions of my guests. But in the case of such talented legends as Crosby, Stills and Nash, I thought it would be fun to let listeners participate. For more than 40 years, I’ve had the privilege of asking whatever I want of the most celebrated people in the country. I felt it would do no harm to give you listeners a chance to do what I do—ask questions of some rock icons.If I can get Obama to my microphone, I’ll have plenty of questions of my own—-though I’d be very curious to know what my listeners believe I should ask. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

 

Bob