UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE MONDAY AUG 10, 2009
I have spent the weekend agonizing over the Congressman Carnahan interview and public response; I replayed the interview several times in my mind ... against remarks from critics. Over 4 decades, I've done hundreds of interviews and thousands of stories ... and I can always look back and find something different, maybe better that I could have done. In this case ... where I took what I considered obvious answers or non-answers (depending on your perspective) from Congressman Carnahan ... I could have added two statements; those two remarks might have blunted much of the criticism. Note, that I did not say it would have made the interview that much better ... just reduce complaints. I had asked Congressman Carnahan if he had read the bill; he responded by saying he had a 4 hour briefing --- I could have said and/or asked in some fashion .. so that means no? After he responded to the viewer question about getting under the same plan the government is proposing for others ... I could have said and/or asked in some fashion ... so you won't drop your plan? To me his answers in each case were obvious and since I was trying to cover other subjects ... I moved on. Judging by critics .. that was a mistake. I will try to do better for you.
In summary, I can be faulted on any points a critic chooses ... EXCEPT ... any failings were not because I was trying to support or protect Congressman Carnahan.
I've always said, in this business ... any mistake is "on its way to Mars". It can not be called back; any correction is on the next Mars' mission.
CARNAHAN INTERVIEW (ORIGINAL 8/07/09)
There is a saying ... Never take a knife to a gun fight.
It came to mind after response from last night's interview with Missouri Congressman Russ Carnahan about the health care reform proposal.
I knew going into that interview that I was facing some challenges. It was a live interview inside a newscast ... not a 30 minute interview session. I was limited in time, and I was limited on how much I could hammer any one issue because we told viewers that we would ask their email questions.
There was no way that I was going to please those angry with Congressman Carhanan and the proposed health care bill.
My job was to ask the questions and he would answer .. or not answer .. depending on your perspective. As one viewer said: It is not your job to prosecute nor persecute ... just ask the questions.
I was able to push a couple of issues more than once, but then time dictated that I had to move on to other issues.
The response to my interview: 90% of those sending emails .. thought that I failed ... that I was not tough enough ... that I was Carnahan's "pr flak".
Why? Well, because I did not do the interview the way they were sure they would have done it.
First, I was going to be civil, and nowdays, too many watch "pseudo news reporters" not just pose questions but verbally slap and punch their subject.
Secondly, regardless of any personal views I have about the health care plan --- I will treat the Congressman with the respect his office deserves.
I made a point in the beginning to say that I am acquainted with the Carnahan family and have attended social events with them; I was trying to offer "full disclosure" so no one could say that I hid those relationships, but some viewers turned that information against me ... saying it explained why I handled the interview the way I did.
As someone told me... many were NOT GOING TO BE HAPPY ... unless you set Congressman Carnahan on fire.
That might be right, and that is a shame.
We can question or even disagree with each other on this volatile subject but where is it that we have to shout and turn nasty. I raise that question for both sides.
One issue that I really wanted to ask Congressman Carnahan ... I didn't get to do because of our time restraints. Before we on the air, I asked for his opinion ... does he think that those showing at the meetings were all part of an organized group? I asked him did he have that same response when Democrats showed up at conservative functions? Did he not give the American people credit for having their own minds and opinions? Did he not think these are Americans who are scared, uncertain and deserve answers? Congressman Carnahan stuck with his belief that most protestors and those opposed to the health care plan are part of a conspiracy.
I am going to include many of the responses to my interview; most are negative, but that's okay. I don't want to hide the complaints. Read them; agree with them or debate them.
Not one question about cost. Abortion coverage is in the bill. No challenge from Connors.
Please don't interview anyone on this if YOU haven't read it in full or at least the sections your questions are covering. Journalism?????????
Will I be turned over to the white house website because of this email?
Larry Connors interview with Russ Carnahan added to the disinformation campaign of the democratic members of Congress. He never got an answer from Carnahan about his willingness to have the same health care provided by the proposed bill. And not one question about the cost of this program. I hope you'll give equal time to someone who will give straight answers to what's in the proposed bill, and what it is going to cost.
i have stopped watching nbc due to its bias coverage. and i will adding cbs to my bias coverage after watching larry with russ carnahan he asked questions that were not answered and he he showed bias and my wife and i will ask our friends and neighbors to stop watching your channel the issues are too important to use slight of hand reporting such as happened tonight with carnahan.
You did not put Mr. Carnahan's feet to the fire on the questions. He never actually answered if HE read this bill. And with the questions you were posing, maybe you should read it. This bill is filled w/little healthcare content and more instructions for how to deliver health care. There are stipulations about government money afforded to institutions that cater to minorities; you will NOT be able to take your insurance w/you if you leave your employer; and every 5 yrs after a certain age, end of life counseling will be done. WHy did you not ask about what will happen to the medicare plan when this one in put in place. This yo yo is an Obama puppet and can't even look the camera...the people in the eye. How much more dishonest can you get? He has no intention of reading this bill or understanding it other than hearing Reid and Pelosi's explannation. That is what he did w/Cap and trade and with the stimulus
Larry Conners really hit those "hard" questions to Rep. Carnahan!! Larry asked a question and Carnahan does his political dance and doesn't answer the question and Larry doesn't follow up and asked again. He asked if Carnahan had read the 1000 page Health Bill and Carnahan said he sat thru a 4 hour briefing. So his answer should be a big NO, he hasn't read the bill, he doesn't know what is in it. Larry let him get away with not giving a direct answer on all of his questions. How is this Health Bill so important and big rush when it doesn't take effect until 2013 ?? I am really disappointed, Larry could have shown some real journalism, but instead he played social time
WORTHLESS TIME TAKEN ON THE AIR.
I am seriously disappointed at the poor effort Larry put forth in interviewing(?) Cong. Carnahan. The congressman didn't answer a single question and Conners let him get away with it. Was this supposed to be news or a way for Carnahan to try to regain some of his dignity after the south county fiasco? Larry warned us that he's a friend of the Carnahan family. I guess he wasn't kidding.
I expect this kind of thing from Channel 5 which is why I don't watch them anymore. I expected better of Larry Conners and Channel 4.
Dear Mr. conners,
I was forced to turn off your interview with Mr. Carnahan after your first question. I was hoping your interview would be different, but I knew after the first question yours would be the same as all of the other mainstream media interviews. You asked if he had read the bill-- answer was he had been briefed on the entire bill and would get more briefing on some last minute changes. A hard hitting, responsible journalist would have follwed with-- so you are telling me you personally did not read the bill! Instead you let him skate away. Why????????? Why did you not follow up with the logical question?
Channel 4 (KMOV) has lost it's "first-for-news" status in our house! By having Russ Carnahan on unchallenged for a long segment, in which he doesn't even answer the questions raised, you have clouded what should be unbiased news. Nothing like an unpaid commercial for the Democratic Party to push their issues! I hope you will give the conservatives equal time to express their views. This household is outraged and looking for a new network to watch...switching away from 'News4.'
I was extremely disappointed with your 'faceoff' with Russ Carnahan. Like you, my family has also been friends with the Carnahan family for many years. However, for you to throw 'softball' questions at him and allow him to 'answer' the questions by making his prepared speeches on the topics is (I am very sorry to say) the mark of a poor newsman. I generally enjoy your segments and news reports but you blew this big time!!!
The questions Larry Connors asked were easily understood by me but apparently not by Representative Carnahan.
Check this out:
Page 50, sec. 152, HC is to be provided for ALL non-US citizens, ILLEGAL or otherwise.
Is it too much for the interviewer to stop letting him give his talking points and just ANSWER THE QUESTIONS?
Why should viewers even submit questions if they are not answered?
We the viewers deserve better.
I just watched Larry Conners' interview of Representative Carnahan. I have concluded Mr. Conners did not conduct an interview but provide a forum for half truths and misdirection by Representative Carnahan. Representative Carnahan was asked questions that could have been answered with a yes or no answer but he did not do so, and Conners did not press Carnahan for such answers. In my opinion, Carnahan obfuscated what is written in the Health Care Bill. Mr. Conners for his part could not have been better at being a sycophant. After watching this display, I am disheartened at the quality of interviewing and reporting presented on KMOV.
Michael C. Pinney
Thanks for the Carnahan coverage. But he never said he has read the bill, only that he got a briefing. He never answered the question about whether he would be willing to go under the public option.
I cannot believe you let Congressman Carnahan tell the untruths that he told on your news broadcast tonight. If you do have him on again, please check your facts. That is what they are counting on - that you have not read the bill.
I was disappointed that Larry Connors didn't get more direct answers from Russ Carnahan regarding health reform on this evening's 10:00 news. When Carnahan was asked if HE would be willing to give up his health insurance and go under the plan proposed, he was allowed to side-step the question and never actually answered it. When asked if abortion SHOULD be covered, he said "no"--the question should have been IS abortion covered. There's a big difference. When asked if he had read the plan himself, he side-stepped that also, saying they had been "briefed"--in other words, no, he hasn't read it. He implied that the urgency to pass this plan is something everyone agrees about, yet he'd just seen the objections and anger of the people at the way this thing is being shoved down our throats. The "urgency" is only on the part of Congress, which thinks we're a bunch of idiots who can't think for ourselves. They want to run as many areas of our lives as they can get their hand!
Russ Carnahan was on with Larry, flacking for the administration's health care plan, and he skillfully avoided a truthful answer to Larry's first question. Now, how about giving Todd Akin an opportunity to speak for the opposition!
Let's hear the other side, and hear it from an honest Congressman.
Larry Conners did a good job interviewing Mr. Carnahan. Mr. Carnahan presented talking points Democrats will follow as they explain the health care legislation making its way through Congress. I've read a major portion of the proposed legislation and must admit I continue to be amazed at the disinformation the Democrats persist in presenting to their constitutents. Mr. Carnahan's comments this evening were a disgrace. He deflects questions, steps around answers. And when he did provide a straight response it was not truthful. KMOV-TV has an opportunity to do the right thing. Suggest you invite another speaker, someone familiar with the facts contained in the proposed legislation, give that person equal time to present the other side of the issue. Failure to do so makes your audience think KMOV-TV is partial to one perspective. Providing airtime to one side of any issue without providing equal exposure to the other side of the issue is not good journalism. It's too !
easily viewed as biased reportage. And in this instance it appears to be yet another example of facilitating a liberal political message, a free political ad if you will. Thank you for your consideration of this request
I am usually very impressed with your interviews and reporting skill. I watch you every night. However tonight I was somewhat disappointed. I realize that you were very pressed for time but the fact of the matter is that Mr. Carnahan failed to answer the majority of your questions with a direct answer.
There is no way that a 4 hour briefing can cover all line items in a 1000 page report. It is obvious that he has NOT read the report.
He would not answer your question concerning his switching to the new insurance policies from his old.
The proposed program is a direct stepping stone to total government run health insurance.
I have watched his answers to basically the same questions three times now and each time he has used the exact same words to form his answers (which do not answer the question.)
Also if he were truly interested in getting public feedback instead of forcing the message out the meeting invitations would have been split between those for and those against. Not stacked with people supporting the program.
Matter of fact if you listen to all of the Democratic persons that are being interview they all use the exact same wording to answer their questions. Now if any of them had actually read the proposal they would at least have a slightly different perspective when answering a question. It is very obvious that this is all scripted. This scares me.
In closing I am not an activist of any kind. This is the first time that I have felt strongly enough to respond directly on any political issue. If there is another meeting in an area where I can get to it I might well attend.
Thanks for your time.
Larry, thank you for airing your interview with Rus Carnahan tonight.
You gave your viewers an opportunity to see how uninformed our elected representative are. You noticed, I am certain, that he danced around and rambled through Question #1 about his willingness to give us his federal coverage to live under the sam health plan he is proposing. He did not answer that question. On to Question #2 concerning failures of Federal government programs such as Soc. Sec., Medicare, Veterans Admin, and even Postal Service. Wow! He thinks they are large public health care systems which have "small overhead costs and are good."
Exactly what does this man know? I really appreciate your questions to him about citizens'objection to a socialist health plan. He sincerely replied that this plan is not a socialist plan. Are we stupid to permit these unqualified representative to suck up air in our beloved and honorable halls of freedom or do we blame ourselves for being even more uninformed than they are?
Please know that we appreciate your efforts to make our local news worthy of our time by reporting issues of substance and in depth.
Continue your assertive reporting and conscientious focus on informing your listeners, BUT make them answer the questions, Larry. Jan Cunningham/St. Louis County
Subject: Re: Larry Connors
I couldn't find a way to email Larry directly on your website, so I hope this message gets routed to him. I saw his interview with Russ Carnahan Thursday evening. First, I want to compliment Larry on the questions he asked the Congressman. Unfortunately, he allowed the Congressman to give half answers, or regurgitate totally misleading messages without following up to pin him down and make him answer the question asked. I've enjoyed Larry's reporting for years. I think he honestly thought he was asking tough questions, and he did. He just might as well been musing to himself for the type of answers he got from Mr. Carnahan. To say the least, I was very disappointed.
Saw your interview yesterday with Carnahan. What a fiasco!
He lied about every question you asked. Where do these so-called politicians get their information?
My question to you is: when are you going to conduct a rebuttal interview, someone with the correct facts? You, of all people, should know there are two sides to every story - let us hear the other side.
As I set watching your news broadcast last night I became very aware just how liberal your are.
Your interview with Russ Carnahan was a disgrace from the very beginning. On the very first question not only did Mr. Carnahan refuse to answer the question that was asked of him by a viewer, but you showed no interest in having any balls to ask him a follow up response after he made his comment. WILL HE GIVE UP HIS GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE PROGRAM AND USE THE SAME HEALTH CARE SYSTEM THAT OUR GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO FORCE UPON THE REST OF US?
There is one other item that I wish to bring up and that is why News4 didn't report the beating at the town hall meeting last night? I don't want to hear the cock and bull story about not knowing anything about a beating. Apparently there was a black fellow who was there to voice his concerns about Barack Obama Health Care System of which he is against, yet he was beaten up by two thugs from the ACORN Organization. He received head and other body injuries and was taken to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. Were those two Jack Boot Thugs arrested?....most likely not.
I have refuse to watch channel 5 news because of their bias reporting and now its apparent that channel 4 is just as bad. Its sad how the American people became brain washed by idiot traitors in the news media such as yourself. I had a lot of respect for you at one time but that has long faded away when you lost your own self respect and became a puppet for the government.
Most likely I will not get a response to my email nor will I see a response to it on the 6 pm news cast and that is fine with me as that is what I kind of expect....."No Guts, No Glory."
From an angry citizen
I just watched Larry Conners interview Russ Carnahan. Way to go Larry! Mr. Conners asked the questions we all want to ask politicians. Unfortunately for Russ, he was unable to provide any coherent answers. Larry Conners and News 4 has earned my trust. I now have a "go to" news source. As a representative of a generation that typically sources news outlets online, giving me a reason to tune in is a big deal.
Thanks for doing your job as a journalist,
Wow. People are angry. Good. I've worked in the healthcare industry in St. Louis since 1993, and specifically in hospitals since 1999. I'm disappointed in our government. It ensures prisoners receive medical care (there are cases of those who commit a crime in order to return to prison to receive the organ transplant they need), while those who work hard to keep their family afloat still cannot afford healthcare and cannot take their children to the doctor. What's wrong with that picture?
When I was growing up, my daddy - who is a minister and considered self-employed - didn't see a dentist for 13 years. He couldn't afford to get insurance for himself after buying it for his children.
I believe that our citizens - especially our able-bodied, working citizens - should receive good medical care. Personally, I don't agree with the health care reform bill - and yes, I have read it. All of it! However, we must change access to health care. Many people resort to using the Emergency Room for the most basic care (colds, sore throats, pregnancy tests, you name it). Many abuse the ER because they've learned that EMTALA forces our medical professionals to see everyone, even those who are taking advantage of the system. Who's paying for that? We are.
Several years ago, when I worked with a national healthcare system, I learned that we as individuals have a powerful voice when we come together for a common purpose. I learned that I could email my local politicians and be heard. Rather than bemoan what seemed inevitable, I found that my individual voice was stronger than I realized when combined with everyone else's, and that change happened.
Simply being angry isn't enough. Email your politician. Let them know how you feel. And don't forget: Be Nice. You'll catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar (at least that's what we say in the South).
PS - for those who are interested, the Institute for Family Medicine is a great resource for medical care... if you don't have insurance, the doctors will see you for $25 or a donation you can afford. Now that's a positive solution.
I have watched you on channel 4 for a very long time now and want you to know that regardless of what some of the rude people said about you a couple of nights ago, you will always be one of my favorites. Channel 4 has always been my pick of all channels to get my news from because I trust all of you so much more and you are not "SO SURE OF YOURSELVES " like quite a few of the other channels.
Keep up the GREAT job you have done for so long !!!!!!!
Sincerely, Your fan forever, Cindy