Only Good Aspect of the PSU Horror: the Bob Costas Interview

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For work reasons, I've been away from the realm of connectivity longer than I anticipated. As a quick re-entry note, before a longer item forthcoming shortly on "the Mormon question" and then some other topics (including WTF with these weird Chinese structures that have shown up via satellite and that everyone is writing about), here is a note with which I agree 100%. A reader writes:

Was curious if you saw Bob Costas' interview with Sandusky. [See Atlantic Wire item for background.] Putting aside the content of the awful Penn State mess, it's worth watching Costas's fabulous technique. Such a professional. Totally prepared. Didn't fill silences. Crafted questions in a way that illuminated while getting himself out of the way. I complain alot about the quality of reporting out there. But this was outstanding. Any young reporter would do well to emulate.

 

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Agreed. Serious without being sanctimonious. Skillful and natural-seeming use of the pressure of silence. Going into horrifying and titillating material in absolutely straightforward non-smirky fashion. Relentless without seeming bullying. [More from Ta-Nehisi Coates on the interview too.]

A lot of the time, when you see a "star" interviewer on TV, you get a lesson in posturing or narcissism that you hope young journalists will ignore. This is the reverse. I'm sure if we went through all of Bob Costas's oeuvre (or mine, or anyone's), we'd find some less impressive examples. But this could hardly have been handled better on his side. Sandusky could hardly have handled himself worse, but that is not Costas's fault. Well done by Bob Costas and NBC.
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UPDATE A reader writes:

Agreed that Bob Costas is a competent interviewer.  And that's precisely why we will never see him interview Speaker Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, etc. 
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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