Even the most seasoned reporters can occasionally bring their own opinion to an interview. This was strikingly apparent in the two major interviews Elizabeth Edwards conducted immediately following her new book release. The first televised interview was with Oprah Winfrey. Even the difficult questions were presented compassionately and Oprah’s distaste for John Edwards was palatable. The second interview was conducted by Matt Lauer of The Today Show — and the tone couldn’t have been more different. Lauer, though restrained, was mildly confrontational and spend a good deal of the interview opening questions with “some have said… [insert an insult here].”
Both of these television personalities are among the most seasoned in the industry. Still, each clearly brought their own perspective to the interview — for Winfrey, Elizabeth Edwards was a sympathetic figure and, for Lauer, she was the vengeful wife.
Whatever your view on Elizabeth Edwards, the takeaway here is valuable for anyone who participates in media interviews. Even the most professional reporters may have backstories that will find their way into your interview and possibly into the story. In my experience, this situation is pretty rare. But being prepared for that possibility may make the difference between being cast as The Sinner — or The Saint.