How Kellyanne Conway stymies reporters

Carlos Maza has a great breakdown of how Kellyanne Conway is so adept at deflecting questions. It's basically a form of journalistic jiu-jitsu that exploits journalistic civility and pivots by using their own words against them.

Kellyanne Conway has a supernatural ability to derail any interview that paints Donald Trump in a negative light. How does she do it? Watching Conway do backflips to avoid answering simple questions is fascinating and occasionally entertaining, but it doesn’t provide viewers with useful information about what the Trump administration is doing or intends to do. And it should raise questions about what the purpose of interviewing an administration official actually is.

This is why many media activists are urging journalists to stop booking Trump mouthpieces. They serve no purpose other than to promote whatever topic they want to discuss. Some journalists are finally taking a stand:

Kellyanne Conway's interview tricks, explained (YouTube Vox)

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  1. I think people are giving KellyAnne Conway way too much credit. What she does isn't magic, and it isn't special. It's what all spokespeople and press secretaries and candidates do: They answer the question they wish they had been asked. She isn't some expert at verbal kung fu, or whatever. That's just silly. People ask her simple questions, she doesn't answer, they ask the question again, she doesn't answer again, and they give up. That's all there is to it.

    Let's stop feeding the narrative of the Conway mystique, okay?

  2. Shuck says:

    Since the start reporters have been arguing that there was no point in having her on - she was never able to accurately represent the administration's positions, as she was frequently contradicted by others in the administration. That's really becoming obvious now. The larger problem is that no one in the administration seems able to represent the administration's positions, even the president (or perhaps especially the president). Listening to the press conference with Netanyahu, it became obvious there's no value in having actual reporters there - they just need someone to hold a camera to catch the gibberish Trump spouts. He's only calling on right-wings news outlets, and he is unable to answer basic questions because he clearly doesn't know anything (I now question if he even knows what is meant by the "two state" or "one state" solutions with re: to Israel).
    It has become incredibly clear: journalists need to focus on investigative work, and trying to curry favor with the administration to get access is a pointless task for a worthless payout.

  3. That was painful to watch. And truly scary. The guy is in so far over his head.

  4. There are ways to deal with her but I've yet to see a host do it (correct me on this if you've seen it), for example if she tries to change the subject from the crowd at the inauguration to health care the host should offer "OK, so now you want to talk about health care instead of the inauguration, I promise you we will move on to health care next, but first you have to answer the question about the size of the crowd at Trump's inauguration." And if she then tries to switch to another topic like terrorism the host does the same thing "OK, now it's terrorism, so we can talk about that after health care, and after you answer my original question."

    The host can also counter her "I don't know" tactic with "but I thought you were the President's spokesperson, why does he send you out to the press if you can't answer questions?"

    Rather than stop interviewing her, make her be the one who finally refuses to go on CNN or NBC.

  5. That's the problem right there, they move on to the next question instead of nailing the evasion down. All it takes is a simple, "We understand you don't want to answer this question, let's move on to the next one." to make it clear to the less intelligent members of the audience that the evasion is happening and there probably is something we should know about but are being stonewalled on.

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