I admit I usually watch Letterman or Leno after the late local news. Tonight, I watched Nightline.
Is this the best news show on television or not? Ted Koppel is a master at the interview, maybe the best in the business. He’s interviewing Bill Parsons of NASA about the foam debris that fell off Discovery.
He’s asking every tough question you could come up with. “How could you let this shuttle take off before you solved the problem that caused the Columbia tragedy?” “Is there any reason right now that you would think Discovery wouldn’t make it back to earth safely?” “Can you get a rescue mission up there?”
Give the exact same questions, the exact same phrases to any of the other news anchors/readers and those questions might have come off as attacking. Not with Koppel. He has a tone that sends a message to the interview subjects that he’s not trying to back them into a corner, not trying to make them look bad, he’s just interested in the answer.
After all of the hard questions, Koppel thanked Bill Parsons for coming on his broadcast quickly and answering his questions. He did answer every question candidly. To the question “how could you let this shuttle liftoff before you solved the problem?” Parsons replied “we thought we had fixed the problem.”
And then, Bill Parsons thanked Ted Koppel. “Thank you Mr. Koppel.”
That’s a good interview. When the anchor/reporter asks all of the hard questions, gets the answers and then the interviewee says thanks. Maybe it’s in the tone of the interview. Maybe it’s from the respect that Mr. Koppel has earned. But maybe he’s earned that respect by being respectful to the people he’s interviewed over the years. Ted Koppel shows us you can show respect even while asking tough questions.
Good show. And I learned more about Discovery than I have reading all of the internet news reports. You can’t say that about every tv report these days.