For the past week, Lawrence O'Donnell has been promoting that his The Last Word show would have the first national interview with Elizabeth Colbert Busch, congressional candidate in South Carolina and sister of Stephen Colbert. The interview was last night and it was a disaster.
The satellite feed went out and so they only were able to put up a picture of Ms. Busch. But that wasn't the disaster. It was unfortunate, but stuff like that happens. What came after was dismal.
Lawrence O'Donnell is a very bright guy who knows politics inside and out. He chose to play it All Giggly All the Time last night.
This is pretty much what he asked the serious congressional candidate in the First Ever Interview of Elizabeth Colbert Busch --
Isn't losing the satellite a campaign dirty trick? Isn't it? Isn't it?
Stephen calls you "Lulu". Can I? (Thanks, but I'll call you "Elizabeth" anyway).
Was Stephen funny as a little kid?
Will Stephen be giving you money from his PAC?
Stephen pronounces his names "Col-BAIR" and you pronounce it "COL-burt," which is it?
Isn't it convenient that your name has "Busch" in it?
There's a picture of your dad with President Kennedy who he served on a committee for, your family's involvement in politics goes back a long way, doesn't it?
There's a quote from your parents about taking "legitimate adventures." That's a dig at former Gov. Mark Sanford who you'll probably be facing, isn't it? Isn't it? Isn't it?
Isn't losing the satellite a campaign dirty trick? Isn't it?
And that was pretty much the whole interview. It was the kind of interview you get when you see that the President has agreed to do an interview with a 6th grader for My Weekly Reader. Only less substantive. Usually the six-grader has been prompted to ask an actual question or two about policy.
(Actually, it's worse than even that. Because several of the questions were requested by viewers. What kind of serious news host asks for viewers to send in questions -- and then selects the most frivolous one? The only reason I can see him doing it is because he knew those questions were silly but wanted to pawn off the responsibility for asking them on others.)
In fairness, the interview might have been so weak because they lost the video feed and later said they'd have her back as a guest. Except that's no excuse. Real, actual interviews are done over the phone all the time. Like, on -- oh, radio. But even on TV. Sometimes there's just no video available. Deal with it. And it's nice that they'll have her back -- but, geez, guy, ask at least one real, political question. It's nice that Lawrence O'Donnell gave Elizabeth Colbert Busch "the last word," but what would have been nicer is to let at least show get in a first word to explain why she's deserving of being elected to Congress.
I don't mind some of the light-hearted questions. But not most of them, let alone all of them. And quit giggling through the whole thing. This is a substantial woman running for a substantial office and talking to a substantial host on a substantial show. But on Wednesday, you'd have never known it.
Maybe next time.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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