Barbara West’s Marxism quest leaves out hubby’s GOP connection to win Media Putz
Originally published on MediaPutz.com on October 30, 2008
The satellite TV interview: national politicians have to do a lot of them in running for office. You sit there in a room and conduct one satellite interview after another after another, often answering the same questions over and over. And because TV journalists in smaller markets tend to approach these interviews in a distinctly different manner than a national journalist, satellite interviews don’t draw much attention.
But Barbara West of WFTV, Orlando wanted to make sure her interview with Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden was something completely different. Unfortunately, integrity and ethics were left out of the equation.
WEST: You may recognize this famous quote: “From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs.” That’s from Karl Marx. How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?
BIDEN: Are you joking? Is this a joke?
BIDEN: Or is that a real question?
WEST: That’s a question.
BIDEN: He is not spreading the wealth around. He’s talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to get back the tax breaks they used to have.
WEST: What do you say to the people who are concerned that Barack Obama will want to turn America into a Socialist country much like Sweden?
BIDEN: I don’t know anybody who thinks that, except the far right-wing of the Republican Party.
Though Biden had no idea such a question was coming, he responded beautifully. Satellite interviews are tricky since you aren’t in the same room or even the same state. You likely have never met this person, and she asks such a question.
West is listed as a health reporter and anchor for the ABC affiliate in Orlando. According to her bio, she has covered political stories over the years. But also during most of that time, her husband, Wade West, has been a Republican media consultant.
From Daily Kos:
“Wade has long standing relationships with many Republicans. His connections date back at least to Governor George W. Bush in Texas, inculdes (sic) his protests for Bush during the 2000 election, and extends to his employment by over 85 congressional Republicans plus Bush cabinet members.”
So how bad was the West-Biden interview?
If journalism schools ever needed a perfect example to show their students of how an interview should never be conducted, it would be the recent encounter between Sen. Joe Biden and Barbara West, an anchor for WFTV in Orlando, Fla.
Embarrassing and painful are two words that quickly come to mind to describe West’s interrogation of Biden last week. It may be the worst interview of a major political figure by a “professional” broadcast journalist I’ve ever witnessed. It was like something out of the old Soviet Union where propaganda masqueraded as news.
Every question West asked revealed a bias against Sen. Barack Obama that reached the point of outright hostility.
“This is the most embarrassing interview I’ve ever seen on local television. This has nothing to do with whether you are for Obama or McCain. It’s about being professional. Quoting Karl Marx?
Even Sean Hannity wouldn’t be so ham-handed. Making matters worse, it looks like Barbara is just dumbly reading questions someone just handed her, then staring blankly at the screen. Biden made her look like a complete dimwit. Not that this was hard.
How could WFTV allow this to happen?”
While West’s interview with Biden was the stuff of media stories for days to come, one key point often ignored was the softness of her interview with Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Sean Hannity must have been impressed.
The “toughest” question McCain received wasn’t even about him, but was replaying the talking points about ACORN. If West thinks she was as tough on McCain as she was on Biden, she needs to see the tape.
West claims that she wasn’t trying to move up the media ladder with this move. But she did take the opportunity to go on Bill O’Reilly’s TV show.
West tells O’Reilly she was as tough on McCain as she was on Biden. But when asked what was the toughest question she asked McCain:
“Actually, I think the toughest question that I asked him was asking him about his own campaign and his management of his own campaign. Obama’s campaign is so organized and so well put together and such a well-oiled machine. And yet even now this late in the campaign, Senator McCain’s campaign still seems to not have it together.”
So asking an outrageous irrelevant misleading question about Karl Marx is equal to a question of management of a campaign?
She didn’t ask one question about McCain’s policies. Some of the questions involved “Why haven’t you gone after him” on ACORN, “Are you going to cut and run (in Florida) or fight harder?” and “Do you feel the Democrats are trying to paint you into a box?”
When you conduct an interview that could make FOX “News” on-air staff cringe, you are doing something right in the right-wing bizarro world. For the rest of us who expect some semblance of ethical journalism, even on a TV satellite interview, Barbara West fails the smell test along the lines of a room filled with burning sulphur, a pack of angry skunks, and a year’s worth of dirty diapers. For the most disturbing local TV interview we’ve seen in some time, we eagerly award Barbara West as our Media Putz of the week.