After four years of Donald Trump, it’s easy for a U.S. resident to believe that TV news reporters aren’t permitted to ask tough questions or push back when given inadequate answers. So it can be quite jarring in 2020 to see such things happen in a live interview.
That’s why this clip from a New Zealand news broadcast is getting so much attention. Newshub’s Tova O’Brien sat down for a chat with Jami-Lee Ross, a controversial New Zealand politician with some decidedly Trump-y qualities who lost his seat in Parliament following the country’s just-concluded 2020 election.
The four-minute clip highlights an exchange that’s marked primarily by O’Brien’s incisive questioning and unwillingness to let Ross dodge. She steers the conversation in a way that’s meant to hold the ousted politician to account for his more questionable behavior.
For U.S.-based TV watchers who have lived on a diet of domestic news coverage for the past four years, O’Brien’s disposition throughout the interview might seem overly aggressive or hostile. But no, this is actually a professional reporter doing the job of digging into the sorts of questions viewers should want an answer to.
She doesn’t let Ross get away with anything, and in fact openly calls him out because his attempts to dodge and re-frame the conversation are so shameless.
Predictably, the clip went viral on U.S. Twitter, accompanied by expressions of shock at O’Brien’s approach (lol) and wistfulness for the American news media to reach a place where this kind of no-nonsense attitude is an expectation rather than a rarity.
On the righteous pleasure scale this rates a 10 of 10. You will want to watch this New Zealand journalist “grill” an alt right politician the way it should be done. pic.twitter.com/01n3jbcCVw My favorite: “Would you like to have another go at answering that?” Via @charlesarthur
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) October 18, 2020