Candy Crowley will anchor “State of the Union” the Sunday morning show on CNN. When I wrote Seen and Heard: The Women of Television News (Lexington Books, 2008) I tried mightily to get interviews with the women broadcasters profiled in the book. The irony that these women made their livings getting “the get” and I could seem to ‘get’ them, wasn’t lost on me. I even traveled to NYC weekly to drop off letters of interest at ABC, CBS and NBC. I became so familiar to the security guard at ABC that as I approached one day I noticed him nod to his co-worker as if to say “it’s the crazy lady again with her letter.”
Candy Crowley was one of only two women to allow me to interview her (the other is Dana Bash). Candy Crowley told me her technique for getting good information in an interview. She said: “I don’t write out questions. I’ll put topics down. I find that writing out questions gets in the way of listening. The best interviewer is the best listener. The people you are interviewing will lead you places. I’ve heard way too many interviews where it is question 1, question 2, question 3, thank you very much. I don’t just like to go after the sound bite.” She continued, “Relaxing the interviewee is key. I usually throw softballs the first couple of questions (unless time is really limited). People come to interviews with something they want to say. I let them say it. Then I ask about what I want to know. I also am unfailingly polite (not to be confused with docile). A rude, snarly interview may be good TV, but you shut down the interviewee and you get nothing of interest. Tough questions, good. Rudeness, bad.”
Since the publication of that book two of the women profiled have become anchors: Diane Sawyer and Candy Crowley. State of the Union with Candy Crowley is going to be good Sunday morning television.