Politicians and vampires

I make a reflection that concerns me personally. I am a journalist, I work in a radio. I like doing interviews with politicians, always under certain conditions. I also like, perhaps more, doing interviews with people who have big or small stories to tell, stories that serve as a counterpoint, that have value and social impact for those who listen to me. With this, I am not saying that interviews with politicians are not accidents.

A few years ago my editor-in-chief, a good man and a good professional, called me into his office. I had interviewed a leader of the PP (the center-right party in Spain) in the program he was running at the time. The leaders of the party’s press office complained that the questions and their repetition had been too harsh. It was the truth. I knew the arguments the PP was using, I had done a job of fact checkingI had looked for the weak points, the contradictions.

When I entered my boss’s office I reminded him that those in the center-right thought that our radio was their home, the place where they could say what best suited their interests without having someone with their own hypothesis in front of them, someone free. I told him we couldn’t open our microphones to politicians to say what they wanted. This was not serving society. He accepted all my explanations. He was a good leader, he appreciated independence.

There were more harsh interviews and other complaints. A few months later I interviewed a leader of the PSOE (left-wing party). This time I received the call from the party’s press officers directly. They told me that they had done me a favor by giving me an interview with a socialist, because that had helped me to present myself as “a pluralist journalist”, who gave everyone a voice. They reproached me that, in the face of so much generosity, I had behaved badly. I continued to do difficult interviews and in one of them my interlocutor was the leader of Podemos (radical left party). It was a very hard conversation, but nobody called me. I was the one who called her to apologize for being violent and ideological.

I like to interview politicians if I have an idea about what they say, if I have data to compare their statements with reality, if I can question the often empty arguments dictated by their “spin doctors”, If I can ask questions about concrete things that interest people. I like doing interviews with politicians, as long as they let me be myself. It is usually very difficult in the election campaign.

I have often thought that political interviews give me prestige as a journalist, that they give prestige to the company in which I work. It is actually a naive thought. Politicians always try to use you to get the last message they think is useful for them and it is very easy to become a journalist without any character of originality. There is a risk that the work of many weeks, dedicated to other stories, will be useless. For politicians not to turn into information vampires – after all their job – intelligence and a firm will is needed not to give up even an inch of space without carrying out critical work.

I still like interviews with politicians. However, my interest in people and stories full of light, drama or questions is growing. They interest me personally and interest my listeners. These are interviews that help me be a little different, they bring me closer to originality.


Politicians and vampires