CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota moderated a panel of Trump supporters, and it’s the weirdest thing ever.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a moderator go out of their way to treat their own guests rudely, but usually the guest is an expert they dislike. It is unusual to be rude to guests who are only there to share their personal opinions.
Take a moment to watch, if you dare, and keep in mind that the purpose of her panel is to interview the same people repeatedly over a long period of time to observe how, why, and when their opinions change. Alisyn’s role is to listen and look for insight about what influences them.
You see, Alisyn is not observing and reporting on the opinions of her guests. She’s there to expose their opinions, discredit them, and hold these people up as an example of how poorly informed one must be to be a Trump supporter.
I hope you don’t mind, but I’m just going to refer to Alisyn as “A.” for the rest of the post. I just don’t have the energy for the bizarre spelling tonight.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the fascinating 4-part technique demonstrated in the video:
- A. seems anxious that her viewers have no doubt about her deep aversion to her guests. She is too refined to just blurt out, “Aren’t they gross?”, so she is forced to convey her disapproval of these animals via a series of contorted facial expressions and exaggerated gestures.
- She begins the discussion by acknowledging a change has taken place – but it’s more like an accusation that they’ve changed their minds. The guests are there for the express purpose of discussing how their opinions have changed, so it’s an interesting approach.
- A. zooms in on one guest and starts to challenge her personal opinion. She hastens to remind the woman that her opinion has changed. The woman says her views were altered by new information. A. demands to know where this information came from.
- A. pulls out her cell phone to look up the article the woman mentioned, intent on debunking the story or possibly fact-checking the guest’s opinion. Even allowing for a non-traditional approach, I’m sure it isn’t normal to whip our your cell and Google something to rebut the person you’re interviewing. This was one of the most unprofessional things I’ve seen an anchor do on air. After glancing at the title, A. snorts and pushes her phone aside, explaining she won’t waste time reading because she knows where it’s from.
A.’s triumphant expression shows us she considers this an unqualified success, but… Oh, why must I always find fault with the media?
If her role was to be civil, ask one or two insightful questions, and spend the rest of the time listening, A. failed.
If A.’s role was to use morally, logically superior views to help her guests recognize their own ignorance and to applaud as she debunked an obviously fake story, she still failed.
It isn’t as though A. demonstrated critical thinking skills, provided a compelling analysis, or offered up a really credible source to debunk this article. She just announced it was fake because it is. At least the other woman could cite an article which gave her some credibility that A. completely lacked. Yes, the story the guest cited was untrue. But what stood out in the segment were A’s embarrassing manners and complete absence of self-awareness. So much so that I, Ruby Lee, avowed hater of the mainstream media, felt an unexpected pang of pity for A., as she exposed her incompetence again and again.
Maybe one day A. will see this clip and be overcome with embarrassment. More likely, she will not modify her behavior whatsoever. Her doctrine seems to be that changing one’s opinion based on new data, observations, and evidence is for the weak.
Still, it was weirdly fascinating to see a CNN anchor so thoroughly miss the point of her own panel and attempt to use it as a platform to discredit her own guest – who is a private citizen – because she did not share A.’s opinion. That wouldn’t even fly on Public Access tv.