I have been interviewed in one way or the other in several countries: United States, Colombia, Iceland, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, and Romania. I’ve learned quite a bit from these experiences and wanted to share some ideas for those who may find themselves on the receiving end of an interview request.
First, it’s important to understand the two main drivers of mainstream media outlets, in order of importance:
- The neeed for profit
- The need to promote their ideology
The main reason they are talking to you is because they believe you will help them get page views or a large television rating. Promoting their ideology is icing on the cake, and not always an aim. Therefore you are primarily seen by the outlet as a way to make money. The reporter sees you as a scoop or an interesting angle that will improve their ability to get more lucrative assignments (or just continue receiving a paycheck).
While reporters do have individual agendas, and outlets do have boundaries of what type of “dangerous” ideas they can share without showing open hostility, there is no overreaching conspiracy to destroy you. These people are no geniuses with diabolical plans, because if they were, they wouldn’t have gone to work into media in the first place (my experience shows that reporters are not the mostly intellectually curious of people). Any agenda they have against you is primarily due to mental indolence. They work with people who all think they same because they all graduated from the same colleges. Think of them as bubbly, useful idiots who hate rocking the boat.
You may already know that page views and television ratings are not caused by promoting a reasoned and nuanced debate. That approach doesn’t make them money. No one has the time or interest to hear someone explain things at length or else you would watch Jim Lehrer every day. Powerful soundbites and controversial statements are needed instead. Unless you’re a bonafide celebrity who can read from the phone book yet still excite everyone in the room, the interview must be sensational enough to cause an emotional reaction from the audience to push them to share the interview on Twitter and Facebook. Therefore, they will want to focus on the most extreme 1% of your work.
The reporter doesn’t have the time to read all the shit you’ve ever written. In fact, he will just skim over your material and use google to spend about one hour browsing through what others have said about you. Did a hater of yours accuse you of rape ten years ago? They will ask you if you are a rapist. Did you make a statement saying Mexican immigrants are more likely to engage in crime? They will ask you if you’re a white nationalist. Do you show general disdain towards fat women? They will ask you if you’re a misogynist. You get the idea. This is actually the correct strategy from their point of view, because these hot button issues will provoke their audience and cause them to share the segment, making additional money for the outlet. In fact, you want a little bit of this to ensure the interview even gets read, because if there is no sensational angle, who will read and share the interview besides your own fans?
I’m in the camp of accepting all reasonable interview requests, even when I know it’s a trap. I do this for two reasons. First, it’s good practice. If your notoriety grows, interviews will get harder. You need to learn how to stay calm under interrogation and still get your message across. Second, it’s promotion. If you didn’t care about building an audience, you wouldn’t write publicly. They are giving you a free means to promote your ideas, and even if you convert a tiny minority of their readers into your own, you were hugely successful.
That said, here are five tips for doing interviews:
1. Insist on an email format
During a telephone interview, the reporter has a lot of leeway to paraphrase you, causing a great distortion in meaning from just a tiny modification in word choice. This will especially infuriate writers because they greatly appreciate the precision that written language provides. Reporters don’t do this necessarily on purpose, mind you, but because they are lazy (accurately transcribing a recorded interview is tedious and time-consuming).
Some say you should record the interview yourself to have proof of any manipulation, but who is going to bother and listen to your clarification besides your most devoted readers? The email format not only reduces all ambiguity, but it allows you to carefully formulate your answers. The reporter has a lot more interview experience than you, and is likelier to use the phone to corner you into an extreme position that can be hard to get out of.
2. Think before you speak
There is no rush to give answers. You can say, “Hold on let me think for a second.” If you don’t know the questions beforehand, there is no expectation to be fast. The exception is live television interviews. A two-second silence on television is death because it gives someone else (e.g., the feminist guest) a chance to talk. It also makes you appear confused, even though you’re actually being thoughtful and careful. Therefore, do not go on a live interview unless they give you a list of questions first. At the minimum, you should know all the topics to be discussed. If they refuse to do this, do not do it live.
3. Do not joke about illegal acts
If they ask you if you’ve been accused of rape, absolutely do not use irony or sarcasm. A simple “absolutely not” is prudent. Do not make any references in interviews to breaking the law, even minor laws like drinking in public. On the other hand, some trolling on non-legal questions is okay. Remember when I said that a sensationalist interview will get shared more? You want to give a bit of shock value on things that may anger people. If you’re a manosphere writer, your regular beliefs are already shock enough, so don’t tone them down in order to appease the mainstream.
4. Push back on stupid questions
Any reporter who is assigned to you will be a cookie-cutter cog in the machine because, well, she’s interviewing you and you’re far from a rock star. They are going to insult your intelligence with stupid questions that suggest they haven’t even pulled up your work before. There are three things you can do to combat this.
First, you can patiently explain the points that they should’ve known had their research been more complete. Second, you can ignore the question and take a detour into a related topic that gives you an opportunity to discuss something more important to you (politicians do this often). Lastly, you can channel Socrates and logically tear apart the question with your own questions that frustrate the interviewer and cause her move on. A reporter once asked me to define consensual sex and I got so involved about its legal, cultural, and socioeconomic implications that she got bored and moved on.
5. Hope for the best but expect the worst
You should not have the expectation that the interview will an unbiased brain dump of your greatness. Your goal is to get a mere 10% of your belief system onto the final product while not allowing any new accusations or whispers about your character to be introduced. For instance, it’s fine if they ask me about rape and publish my truthful answer, but it’s not fine if I give a sarcastic answer that allows the joke to be taken as fact, because now I will be hammered about this on the next interview (and every interview thereafter).
I noticed that a lot of writers have a negative opinion on interviews because they hate not being able to control the process. While they have rightful concerns about the agendas of reporters and media companies, interviews can be a great way to get a 10% part of your message out there while exciting your readership with some social proof of your work. As long as you don’t get entitled that an interview should only serve your interests, I see no major reason to turn them down. They’ll use you for page views and money while you’ll use them for exposure. That’s a fair trade to me.
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