March 20, 2014

Why interviews with Obama are done standing up.

"But what was interesting--a side note--is the reason why we're standing, I was told by one of his staffers, is because he likes to get comfortable when he's sitting and he tends to get very chatty. And so this was another way to keep him — and us — at the four minutes that they were suggesting that we not go over."

Isn't it nice of the reporters to take suggestion?

Did you know that the oldest meaning for the English word "suggestion" — according to the (unlinkable) OED — is "Prompting or incitement to evil; an instance of this, a temptation of the evil one"? ("Deedly synne hath first suggestion of the feend." Chaucer, Parson's Tale 1386)

That meaning is obsolete now, but nevertheless interesting. I went looking up the word because I thought of "taking suggestion" in terms of hypnosis. The hypnosis meaning — which goes back to the late 19th century — is "The insinuation of a belief or impulse into the mind of a subject by words, gestures, or the like; the impulse or idea thus suggested." I think that's about right for the effect of Obama's people on the reporters.

What can be done to wake these people from their hypnotic state?
1. Tell them they are becoming more and more awake at each count and begin slowly counting from one to a predetermined number.

2. Tell them to "get up" or "wake up". If they don't, repeat step 1.

3. If there are still problems, remember that the participant may either be actually asleep, or simply is being stubborn about getting up out of the trance.
What's happening with these reporters?
  
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40 comments:

Matthew Sablan said...

I actually see nothing wrong with this. I've done interviews for articles with people nowhere near as busy/important as the president, and you always make concessions in schedule/method for the person answering your questions. Sometimes I've come into work super early at like 6:00 to do the interview, or done it on the phone, or not recorded the interview and just took notes, etc.

If the president says he'll talk to me, but only standing on one leg while playing the tambourine, then I guess that's how we're doing the interview.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

This is not the president you were looking for.

Henry said...

Stand-up meetings are pretty common in business. It's a way to keep meetings on point.

April Apple said...

The president is not king. Well, it used to be that way.

Todd said...

He is not a king but he is the one that is being interviewed. He is granting the reporters access. This puts him in the power position (discounting the fact that he is President and really always (domestically anyway) always in the power position) so you do what he wants if you want the interview. I don't see a problem with that.

I do wish they would treat him more like they would if they were actually reporters instead of fans but that is another issue entirely.

EDH said...

Now stand in the place where you work...
Wonder why you haven't before

Stand

If wishes were trees, the trees would be falling
Listen to reason
Reason is calling
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around

Stand in the place where you live
Now face North
Think about direction
Wonder why you haven't before
Now stand in the place where you work
Now face West
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven't before

Stand in the place where you are
Stand in the place where you are

Now stand!

rehajm said...

Stand up meetings are SOP in efficient offices. It's why you should't have a visitor chair in your office. If you must have a chair, make it one of those fold up deals.

Better yet, find a fairly heavy chair and saw off one of the front legs.

cubanbob said...

I find it amusing that the White House has to put these restrictions in place when the interviewers are mostly Democrats with bylines.

Mark O said...

He's not a "real" President; he's a celebrity. Nevertheless, he is a celebrity with the ability to track your calls, subpoena your emails and list you as a possible felon or prosecute you.

If this is not enough, if you report seriously, say at CBS, you will be fired or censored by his friends.

Obama has chilled speech like no other President. There is great fear.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The way most of the interviews read, I'd always assumed that the president was standing, but the interviewer was kneeling.

RecChief said...

Mark O said...
He's not a "real" President; he's a celebrity. Nevertheless, he is a celebrity with the ability to track your calls, subpoena your emails and list you as a possible felon or prosecute you.


You forgot "use the IRS to audit you"

The Cracker Emcee said...

"The way most of the interviews read, I'd always assumed that the president was standing, but the interviewer was kneeling."

Exactly.

mccullough said...

He's also pretty tall, so it provides a bit more of a dominant position. Obama say down with O'Reilly because O'Reilly is 3 inches taller than Obama.

Michael said...

I hold meetings in my office standing up. If it is a visitor we have a comfy place for that but internally we cut to the chase.

Henry said...

In theory the president's time is valuable.

Seeing Red said...

And Michelle goes to China with her mother and daughters but no press to discuss education. She wii not be giving interviews.

SteveR said...

Hope and Change. Most transparent administration in history. Nobel Peace Prize. 45 million uninsured, 5 million sign up. Benghazi. Fast and Furious, IRS.

Skeptical Voter said...

Okay, I agree re efficiency and use of the interviewee's time.

But the underlying concern is that this twit can't stay on message for more than four minutes, and his handlers are afraid to expose him.

No real danger there though; as other commenters have noted, the usual interviewer brings his or her own knee pads.

LarsPorsena said...

Blogger Henry said...

Stand-up meetings are pretty common in business. It's a way to keep meetings on point.

3/20/14, 9:29 AM
_____________________________________

Amen!

Alex said...

Stand-up meetings are good way of torturing people with arthritic knees/hips/back.

glenn said...

Bootlickers one and all.

AJ Lynch said...

I never heard of a thing called stand up meetings so I must have been sheltered in the last 38 years since college.

Levi Starks said...

Whats happening with these reporters?
I'd say it's more like a Rip Van Winkle effect.
The fell asleep 5 years ago, and may possibly wake up in another 3, only to wonder why is everything so different, and why didn't they notice it happening.

Oso Negro said...

I believe that if Obama's people told the press that everyone must wear their undershorts outside of their trousers there would be quick compliance. Within three days there would be a Paul Krugman column arguing that it was always the best practice.

tim maguire said...

Interesting background on "suggestion". That meaning of evil may be obsolete, but it is not completely lost. For instance, it is not a compliment to say that someone is suggestible--it means they can be manipulated, generally used to suggest that they can be convinced to do things a more resolute or serious person could not.

veni vidi vici said...

This is all to prove that Obama pees like a man.

veni vidi vici said...

Oso Negro: Krugman's column would posit that Obama's people didn't go far enough, where they should have required the undershorts be several-days soiled and worn inside out outside their trousers.

David said...

Obama is peeing on them and they are not shocked.

Larry J said...

rehajm said...
Stand up meetings are SOP in efficient offices. It's why you should't have a visitor chair in your office. If you must have a chair, make it one of those fold up deals.


I used to attend stand-up staff meetings in the Air Force daily. Everyone stood including the commander. It's an efficient technique to keep people brief and on point - people aren't likely to monologue and keep everyone standing.

In this case, Obama sits and makes everyone else stand. That comes across as an ego trip to me.

Carnifex said...

New reporter in Washington talking to a Fox journalist. "How come those guys get to talk with Obama and we don't?"
Fox reporter "Those are head journalist"
New guy "How can you tell?"
Fox guy "Dirty knees"

Clyde said...

The whole topic of whether they were in a trance or not brought to mind an old George Harrison song, Beware of Darkness:

Watch out now, take care
Beware of falling swingers
Dropping all around you
The pain that often mingles
In your fingertips
Beware of darkness

Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night

Beware of sadness
It can hit you
It can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more
That is not what you are here for

Watch out now, take care
Beware of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sidewalks
As each unconscious sufferer
Wanders aimlessly
Beware of maya

Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go
While weeping atlas cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness (beware of darkness)

Clyde said...

Also about Obama: Forbes released their list of the world's Top 50 leaders. Pope Francis was #1. Barack Obama was snubbed from the list entirely.

Derek Jeter (#11 on the list) played 17 games last year and hit .190 in 63 at bats. That Pakistani girl who got shot in the head by the Taliban was #34.

Both of them had better years than Obama.

Clyde said...

And here's one from John Lennon, written about Nixon in '71 but I'll be damned if it doesn't fit Obama and his "pocket full of Hope" to a T!

Gimme Some Truth

I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Money for dope
Money for rope

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of soap
Money for dope
Money for rope

I'm sick to death of seeing things
From tight-lipped, condescending, mama's little chauvinists
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth now

I've had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic, ego-centric, paranoiac, prima-donnas
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of soap
It's money for dope
Money for rope

Ah, I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now

I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now

All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

MadisonMan said...

What could be done to the Washington Press Corps.

David said...

Henry said...
Stand-up meetings are pretty common in business. It's a way to keep meetings on point.

I view this as discrimination against older and disabled people.

And I'm not kidding.

It comes from the new age startup types. There is some sense to the rationale, but it's also designed to make anyone not accustomed to the format uncomfortable. It also puts all kinds of people at a disadvantage. Which is certainly one of the purposes.

khesanh0802 said...

@Madison Man
Good one!

David said...

I used to attend stand-up staff meetings in the Air Force daily. Everyone stood including the commander. It's an efficient technique to keep people brief and on point - people aren't likely to monologue and keep everyone standing.

In this case, Obama sits and makes everyone else stand. That comes across as an ego trip to me.


It's also called mutual respect.

I attended a event at Parris Island Recruit Training Depot yesterday. The troops salute the officers, the officers salute the troops. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the base Commandant, General Loretta E. Reynolds, made a point of going out and mingling with the troops, speaking to them in small groups and one on one. She did not view it as a requirement to be endured. She relished the moment and made it clear how much she appreciated each soldier and each soldier's contribution.

The difference between this organization and the political classes, or which Obama is only an example, is striking and disheartening.

harrogate said...

"It comes from the new age startup types. There is some sense to the rationale, but it's also designed to make anyone not accustomed to the format uncomfortable. It also puts all kinds of people at a disadvantage. Which is certainly one of the purposes."

I will second this. It seems like a dick move of the Zuckerberg-category.

West Texas Intermediate Crude said...

Question for Professor A:
I read your blog regularly, and apparently you voted for Mr Obama, I don't know if once or twice. Were you hypnotized also? Not being snarky- those of us who paid attention to his previous life knew that the only thing that might prevent his administration from doing significant harm to this nation would be his executive incompetence, and that has been a limited blessing.
Were you just sick of Republicans (understandable if foolish)? Were you taken in by the crease in his pants, his oratorical skill, or his admirable traits as a family man? Do you really believe that, "at some point, you have made enough money?"
Or were you hypnotized, in the classic evil sense, or otherwise?

Larry J said...

David said...
She relished the moment and made it clear how much she appreciated each soldier and each soldier's contribution.


Good story but a point of clarification. If you were at Paris Island, those were Marines, not soldiers. Marines are quite insistant on that point. They're proud to be Marines and with good reason.