Sunday, July 17, 2022

The Interviewee

The other morning, I was watching a financial channel and the CEO of some company was being interviewed on Zoom or some other app and behind him was a totally blank wall. Far to each side was the frame of a window and above him the very bottom of a very contemporary chandelier. My immediate thought was what is he trying to hide, maybe a sloppy office, maybe how opulent it really was and he did not want his clients to know the fortune they were bringing in for him.

No news to anyone that thanks to Covid 19 our world has changed and for better and for worse interviews more often than not are done virtually. I remember when Rachel Maddow broadcast from her rustic wood home, and Chris Cuomo reported from his basement where his family had relegated him when he had Covid … it was, however, a nicely fitted out basement.

How do people being interviewed at home decide where the interview should take place? I don’t have the slightest clue but like so many others I am fascinated by the places that they decide on.

It is always interesting to see how other people live. You never see a Rembrandt or a Rothko on the wall because who wants to set themselves up as targets for thieves. Sometimes, with less valuable art interviewees may allow it too be seen. Last Monday Rachel Maddow had Barry Berke on her show. He was Chief Impeachment Counsel and prior Impeachment Special Counsel for trump’s impeachment trials. In the background you could see that he has collected examples of African art.

Sitting in front of your library seems a common way to show your education or promote your book. In an article written for Vogue in April 2020 Stuart Emmerich wrote about the subject. He, like me, was trying to figure out the rationale as well as read the titles of the books in these libraries. He said that watching MSNBC anchor Kasie Hunt he noticed that her library was arranged according to color.

Anne Applebaum, a historian and staff writer for the Atlantic, often sits in front of her library showing a group of books on the Gulag. The only one where I could read the author’s name was one she had written. I am quite sure that this was no accident. It is a perfectly legitimate way to illustrate your accomplishments. It made me want to look her up on line, where I learned that she had won the Pulitzer Prize for her Gulag book.

I love Steven Rattner’s library. He was President Obama’s economic adviser. You can’t read the book titles but with the leather armchair and cushion it not only looks very comfy, it is just what you would expect a scholarly person’s library to look like in the movies.

Recently Henry Kissinger, who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, was interviewed in his library . Behind him was one of the many books about this great statesman as well as a book titled the Nixon Tapes. There was no agenda here: Kissinger at the age of 99 has nothing more to prove. You could actually see the range of his interests such as antisemitism, with a book called Anti Judaism. I find it amusing that he has the book “Super Intelligence” which might just be a description of himself, but In fact, it poses the question: what happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence.

The disadvantage for interviewees doing their interviews from home is that peering into their surroundings may distract us from what they have to say .... but it is such fun!

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