The lost art of the good interview

Andrew Haughton writes: Re. “Video of the day” (yesterday). There was a period in the 70s when David Frost was a frequent visitor to Channel Nine and hosted A Current Affair, where he once famously told a slightly tired and emotional Bob Hawke “You’re boring, boring, boring!!”

He also anchored a number of of  90-minute studio audience participation debates, at which he was a master. Such was his standing that Sam Chisholm would move out of his office for Frost and quantities of Pouilly-Fuisse and Monte Cristo cigars were moved in.

He was the consummate television performer and often said “It’s easy. Just remember the three best questions in television are ‘mmmmm’, ‘really?’ and ‘do go on’.”

He understood his job was to make the interviewee talk. How quickly they have forgotten.

Keeping it in perspective

Eveline Goy writes: Re. “Essential: Labor vote collapses as voters warm to Abbott” (yesterday). With all the circus about the election in the dying days, we need to keep some things in perspective: on September 8, the sun will rise at more or less the appointed time, we still will have the same mortgages and worries that we always had, and we’ll have to get on with life. The sky won’t fall in, both major parties are furiously centralist, with some very important different views on specific points but not irreconcilable. Whatever happens, we might think we could have done better, but then it’s only three years until we’re asked again to go to the polls. Not worth getting depressed.

Fully committed 

Gary Woodman writes: Re. “Rundle: Abbott’s pitch is to abandon his party’s principles to win” (Thursday). I was touched by Guy Rundle’s charming naivete when he says of Tony Abbott “he has simply committed to a secular-statist Labor agenda”.

This is some strange new use of the word “commit” with which I was previously unfamiliar. Surely Rundle would be aware, or could guess, that whoever “wins” on Saturday, the major business of government for at least the rest of the year is to plausibly retire all those fanciful “promises” that were dreamed up for, or during, the campaign.

But then, I always liked fairy stories.

Veni, vidi, sensi

Thomas Flynn writes: Re. “Crikey Clarifier: the election costings, and whether you can believe them” (Friday). Stephen Bartos writes “Candidates for the Roman Senate in 200BC were probably heckled with ‘where’s the money coming from?’ Waffly political answers were probably as alienating for voters back then.”

Unlikely. The Roman Senate was never an elected body. By 200 BC the Lex Ovinia (passed before 318BC), which laid down the rules, was in force. Inter alia anybody who had held elected office automatically qualified as a senator, but membership was controlled by the censors (and later by the emperors). Grounds for disqualification included immoral behaviour or the pursuit of a disreputable profession.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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