Thomas Sowell

 Readers sometimes ask why I am seldom seen or heard on television or radio. Mainly it is because I turn down 90 percent of the invitations I get. A recent radio interview shows why.

 I was invited on as a guest to talk about my new book, "Affirmative Action Around the World." But when I phoned in for the interview while the program was on the air, I discovered that another guest was already waiting in ambush, talking about a wholly different topic, minimum wage laws.

 When I asked the hostess whether I was on the program to discuss minimum wage laws and she said that I was, I knew that this was the old bait-and-switch game that I had encountered many times over the years.

 It goes like this: An author is invited on the program to talk about his book but, when he gets there, he finds that the interview is actually about something else. Most guests, being polite, will just go along and the program gets an interview on something they want to talk about, with someone who might never have bothered to be interviewed by them otherwise.

 Having another guest on, talking about a different topic, makes this game work even better. In this case, the other guest talked on and on until finally I asked if she were going to be allowed to filibuster.

 I had no objection to discussing minimum wage laws, a subject on which I had written many times. But that was not why I was there.

 So I hung up the phone.

 Apparently the people who run the program became angry that I would not play along with their game. They phoned me. They phoned the Hoover Institution, where I work, demanding to speak to the director. But the Hoover Institution includes people who know what the media are like, so this ploy didn't get very far.

 Not all media interviewers are like this. That same day I was interviewed on "Hannity & Colmes," where there was no ambush guest and the subject discussed was what they said they wanted to discuss, my book "Affirmative Action Around the World." There are good people as well as the other kind in every field.

 There just happen to be a lot of the other kind in the media. Sometimes media interviewers have an ideological agenda. In that case, they create the impression that "both sides" are being heard, but one guest is allowed to interrupt and filibuster, so that the other point of view cannot be presented coherently.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate