Friday, December 12, 2014
Sensitive Questions in Statement Analysis: The 80's Politicians
But for politicians, the key word is "trust." They want "the public trust" that they will use the office to the betterment of the people, rather than self-interest. It is a tall order.
One must begin with this premise, in light of scandal:
Is the politician asking me, a stranger, to trust him, when those closest to him, such as his wife and his children, cannot?
Recall the time when Gary Hart was seeking the highest office in the land. This now seems rather "tame" but it still highlights the notion of the "sensitive question" in analysis.
When a question is avoided, the question itself, is sensitive.
It could be sensitive because:
1. The subject did not hear the question
2. The subject does not understand the question
3. The subject does not want to answer the question because direct lying causes internal stress.
Often, context is the assistant to drawing a conclusion.
Gary Hart's campaign was about to be sunk by his relationship with Donna Hart. Newspaper articles led to him being forced to subject himself to a television interview.
Everyone is aware of the "Monkey Business", the yacht which brought down the Presidential candidate, Gary Hart. Donna Rice, the model who was with him on the yacht, was interviewed by Barbara Walters on "20/20". The most interesting point was if Donna Rice had sexual relations with Gary Hart. Let's see the exchange, remembering the 80's.
ABC's "Nightline" transcript with Interviewer, Ted Koppel:
Interviewer: I told you, when I spoke to you some time ago, that I was going to ask you both questions. I'm going to ask the first one now. Did you have an affair with Miss Rice?
Remember that the host is not only seeking information but he has one eye on the audience. He is publicly reminding Gary Hart that he has given him ample warning and time to prepare his answer.
Gary Hart: "Mr. Koppel, I was asked a question last spring, which I refused to answer and your clips showed that, so it seems to me I have no choice but to answer the question that was asked me last spring, and I will do that. If the question is in the 29 years of my marriage, including two public separations, have I been absolutely and totally faithful to my wife, I regret to say the answer is no. But I also am never going to answer any specific questions about any individuals. I have no privacy. My wife has privacy; and other innocent people have privacy. And I don't care what questions are asked me, I'm not going to answer them on any specific instance."
Did you notice that he begins with "Mr. Koppel" and not the more familiar "Ted"? (we first must remember the use of the name).
"...and your clips showed that" not only reminds Koppel and his audience, but uses the distancing word "that" within it.
He has "no choice" but to answer the question and then uses the word "will" to tell us what "will" happen in the future. Since he "will" answer it, we will wait for him to do so.
And we will wait...
Nope. No answer.
Note that he avoids the question.
He seems to have heard the question and he seems to have understood it.
He said he is "never" going to answer the specific question. He has a reason why he does not want to answer it.
Ted Koppel noted the answer and then Hart issued an apology to his children, but not his wife.
There was a time when the press did not cover such scandals, even while press in Europe was not so generous in covering these matters up.
When Gary Hart's name is mentioned, Donna Rice's name is right behind his. He is not known for a lifetime of accomplishments. He is known for the yacht and model scandal.
What would have happened had he told the truth and said how it was wrong, and it remains between himself and his family?
Would it have died out?
The press follows where there is a mystery, and some politicians and celebrities may actually use a scandal to heighten interest. When a mystery is solved, the case is dropped.
Would he have been better off, looking back all these years, owning up? Would he have been able to have moved on?
Anthony Wiener was deceptive and actually brought more media interest to himself with his goofy lie about his phone being hacked. Carlos Danger invited interest.