Dave Chappelle granted an extensive interview to CBS that aired earlier this week, and while much of it was interesting, one thing in particular he told interviewer Gayle King really struck me.
When the CBS This Morning co-host asked why the comedian doesn’t do many interviews, the Yellow Spring resident said:
“Because so much of an answer depends on how you feel on a given day, but it lives forever. Your opinions about things can change. Your view of yourself can change, and yet this is on the permanent record.
“Like Donald Trump complains about because someone can look at him and say, ‘Well you said in 1984 that this, that or the other,’ and that’s the cross you have to bear when you engage the press.”
This is something I think about a lot as a member of the media, but Greene County’s most-well-known current resident put his finger on it more squarely than I have been able to.
We’re really bad about punishing people for having opinions even as we beg them to share.
I’m certainly not innocent of judging someone for their opinion or calling him or her a hypocrite for flipping on a topic – and to be clear, sometimes the shoe fits– but that doesn’t mean it’s not something of which we should all be aware.
Interviews are vital to our profession, whether we’re really gathering news or just hunting for a soundbite, but we tend to use and abuse much of what we get out of them too often, especially in sports.
That’s because in sports we tend to have a lot of interviews with people who are in the middle of or just completed emotional situations, and they might not have put a lot of thought into what we ask, especially if the question wasn’t that great to begin with.
But our tendency to be perplexed about someone forming a new opinion based on new facts or changing circumstances – such as Urban Meyer’s evolving playoff position – is particularly pernicious.
Of course, “the media” is made up of a lot of people these days.
Sometimes the news gatherers and the opinion-makers are hard to separate, but to borrow from Chappelle, that’s our cross to bear, too.
All we can do is try to be fair in any situation, and remembering Chappelle’s words might help us do that – or at least prevent us from convincing more subjects speaking out isn’t worth the trouble.