Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kellyanne Conway’s interview tricks, explained

Carlos Maza · Monday, February 13, 2017, 1:11 pm

Conway has a supernatural ability to derail tough interviews about Trump. How does she do it?

Few Trump surrogates have been as effective at defending their boss as Kellyanne Conway. As Donald Trump’s campaign manager turned senior adviser, she’s distinguished herself as a notoriously difficult interview, effortlessly dodging pointed questions and derailing segments that might hurt her boss.

That evasiveness, along with her “Bowling Green massacre” and “alternative facts” controversies, has made her a popular target for criticism and parody. But Conway’s ability to avoid answering even basic questions about Trump’s positions or statements demonstrates real skill. I talked to Seth Gannon, a former champion debater and coach at Speech Labs, who explained how Conway masterfully redirects key terms and concepts, preys on interviewers’ politeness, and displays an almost “postmodern” ability to recreate reality in order to trip up her interviewer and paint Trump in the best possible light.

Conway’s talent for surviving tough interviews is hard to deny. But it’s that same talent that should raise questions about whether interviewing her is a worthwhile journalistic practice at all.

“Once she has decided not to give meaningful answers to questions,” Gannon says, “there is no way to have successful interview by traditional measures. There’s only gradations of failure, only gradations of non-answers.”

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. Check out the video above to see why interviewing Conway can be a fool’s errand.


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