I’ve been doing talk shows on terrestrial radio for almost seven years, and daily Internet shows for the last three-plus years, and have interviewed hundreds of politicians in that period. Obviously, they appear on these shows to push their message and/or campaigns, so their staffs usually try to subtly set boundaries of dialogue to keep the politician from getting blindsided or going off message. Mainly, they just ask the show hosts what topics will come up during the spot and gauge their preparation accordingly. On occasion, their staff will ask to avoid a certain topic, and rarely will demand that certain questions don’t get asked, which typically get answered with, “Can’t promise anything.” In almost seven years, I could probably count the incidences of the latter on one hand, and as I recall, all of them had to do with personal issues that weren’t germane anyway.
Never — and I mean never — has a staffer attempted to provide me with the questions I’d be allowed to ask. Colorado radio station KOA apparently had never heard of such a thing either, and were so amused by the attempt from Senator Michael Bennet’s staff to script the interview that they posted the e-mail on their Facebook page:
What, no question on what enchants Bennet the most about being in the Senate? Find Jeff Zeleny, stat!
Take a look at that list of questions, and notice what’s not there. The Bennet camp didn’t offer a single question about policy — not on spending, not on the economy, not on the deficit, not even on the environment. Why doesn’t the Bennet campaign want their candidate talking about the issues? Do they see a problem if Bennet gets asked substantive questions, because the answers would alienate Colorado voters? They also avoided any questions about Bennet’s record as an appointed replacement for Ken Salazar, with one exception: they allowed KOA to ask Bennet about his “greatest accomplishment.”
Notice anything else about this list? It sets up Bennet to talk about nothing but himself. Coloradans may still be laboring under the impression that the election is about them, and how they get represented in Washington, so this is a helpful reminder that Coloradans should stop being so selfish. After all, the big takeaway from interviews with Bennet should be whether he’s “having fun,” not whether Coloradans can look forward to more taxes, higher spending, and more economic stagnation.