PJ Vogt is a producer for On the Media. He's on Twitter here.
Friday, August 19, 2011 - 04:09 PM
A clip of Christine O’Donnell, former US Senate candidate and Tea Partier, walking out during an interview with Piers Morgan has been making the rounds online. Who wins when a guest walks out?
In the clip, O’Donnell abruptly leaves the studio after being repeatedly asked her views on gay marriage. Today, O’Donnell is saying that she left because of series of questions Morgan asked her before the clip, questions about her sex life.
"It was not about the questions of gay marriages, as the producer very dishonestly tried to portray it," said O'Donnell. "It was ... the very inappropriate, creepy line of questioning leading up to that... [Morgan asked] "Do you still think masturbation is wrong?" he asked, followed by "Have you committed lust in your heart?"
I don’t think the "he said/she said" stuff is actually that interesting here. Instead, I couldn’t help but watch it as a producer, which was a kind of excruciating experience.
From a producer's perspective, a walk-out is a production failure. If it happens, it feels like somewhere, something has gone wrong in the production process. For instance, on our show, producers like to interview the guests before they talk to Bob or Brooke, to get a sense of how they sound. And we want the host to feel prepared, and we don't want the guest to feel ambushed.
I’ve never worked in TV, but I feel pretty comfortable guessing that it works about the same way there. So today, I find myself wondering what happened with this O’Donnell interview. Specifically, I keep wondering if Morgan went into the interview expecting to provoke a walkout.
If so, it wasn’t a bad plan. This week was the first week in my life where I’ve overheard anyone talking about something they saw on The Piers Morgan Show. And less anecdotally, the show got a 7% ratings bump, and the clip went somewhat viral on YouTube. But as a viewer, I’m not sure how much I learned.
Before the clip, I knew that Christine O’Donnell was a failed politician who doesn’t want gay people to get married. Now I know that she’s a failed politician and author who probably still doesn’t want gay people to get married. And that she can be kind of thin-skinned and petulant if you ask her about it. I think I’m also supposed to have come away with a sense that Piers Morgan is a hard-nosed interviewer who isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions, but instead I just think he’s got a slightly icky savvyness for publicity.
I guess what I’m saying is, Piers Morgan should do a show that’s just people walking out of every interview in disgust.