Political interviewers like to pretend that they are are asking genuine questions to their political guests. But sometimes it is revealed all too clearly that their questions are really designed to try and steer the guest towards a particular answer.
This was revealed all too obviously when Andrew Marr raised his finger and said ‘I know the answer to my question’ on his Sunday show when interviewing the Conservative MP, Michael Gove.
Marr (AM) asks his question in lines 01-07 below and Gove (MG) starts to answer (line 08). But then in 09, Marr raises his finger, like a school boy in class, and states ‘see I know the answer, I know the answer to my own question’.
01 AM: if we don’t have what we want 02 at the end of this year 03 nex- this coming year 04 and we leave without a deal 05 what’s the difference between that 06 and leaving without a deal 07 at the time of the withdrawal agreement 08 MG: GOVE STARTS ANSWER ►09 AM: ((raises finger)) see I know the answer 10 I know the answer to my own question 11 MG: and he secured a deal 12 AM: I know the answer to my own question 13 the answer 14 the diff- the diff- 15 MG: well if you if you know the answer Andrew 16 AM: the difference the the well 17 MG: it’s funny that you’re asking me 18 AM: I was hop- 19 I was hoping that you were going to conceded openly 20 that you we we have already agreed the payment AM= Andrew Marr, interviewer; MG = Michael Gove, MP
His guest seemed to understand the oddity of this position by saying ‘well if you know the answer, Andrew, it’s funny that you’re asking me’.
Most of the questions and answers asked and given in political interviews are rarely instances of fresh talk. The questions and answers have been rehearsed many times over, in private and in public, and interviewers usually ask questions that they hope will lead their guests to providing the answers they are looking for. When they don’t, well you can always try raising your finger and answering your own question!