Please adopt me, Bob Garfield! OR Everyone: Listen to THIS
August 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
Do you listen to On The Media? It’s really good. Before I had a kid I listened religiously to the broadcast; these days I keep up with the show via their weekly podcast. Listening the other day it kind of reminded me of a non-satirical version of The Daily show: smart, nuanced analysis of the media from the past week.
Along with reading the NY Times on my phone instead of looking at Facebook, listening to On The Media always feels like I did something good for myself AND I always like it better than the alternative. It’s like choosing the healthier breakfast option that’s ALSO more delicious. Anyway . . .
I have not been able to stop thinking about last week’s episode. It’s a great episode – they start with Trump, they end with David Foster Wallace (well, David Lipsky who did the interview with DFW that became the book and then the movie) but in the middle, almost hidden, is the thing over which I am obsessing: Bob Garfield’s interview with Charles A. Allen, Deputy General Counsel for International Affairs at the Department of Defense, about their recently released Law of War Manual’s problematic implications for journalists.
WAIT! COME BACK! I know that last sentence was full of wonky/nerdy/soporific words but that’s not the point. THE POINT is that Bob Garfield, in that interview, does the hardest thing: he keeps asking questions – pointed, challenging questions – without becoming either aggressive or apologetic – and, at the end, holding Charles Allen to account, he asks when they can speak again to follow up on their conversation. WHO DOES THAT?! IT WAS AMAZING!!
Listening to Bob Garfield conduct that interview made me feel so many things: it made me feel safer than I’ve felt in a long time, like someone smart is watching out for what’s fair and right in this country; it made me feel SO impressed with his skill as an interviewer; it made me wish he could be my tough-conversations-mentor (aka Dad?).
There has been more in the media lately about how women undermine themselves and are undermined by others in conversation. There’s Mansplaining, 10 Simple Words Every Girl Should Learn (side note: “Girl?” really? Not “Woman?”), and Amy Schumer’s amazing “I’m Sorry” sketch. I think that’s all great and valuable. Being effective and powerful as a woman in conversation (not to mention negotiation), having been socialized in the standard U.S.A.-way, is something I think about and struggle with. However, I think Bob Garfield’s example pertains beyond gender divisions; I know plenty of guys who don’t know how to “disagree without being disagreeable.” I guess I just think that, in this particular way, Bob Garfield is a great role model and most of us could stand to learn a thing or twelve from his example.