Thomas Sowell

 At other times, the host or hostess has simply not read the book that the interview is supposedly about -- and that may have nothing to do with ideology.

 A few years ago, a conservative TV interviewer told me, while we were waiting to go on the air and a microphone was being attached to my jacket, that he had not read the book that I had come to discuss but that he would interview me about something in the news that day.

 I immediately removed the microphone that had just been put on me, gave him a few well chosen words, and walked out.

 Why don't more people do that?

 One reason is that many people are dying to be on television. They may be politicians running for office or people who just want the publicity for all sorts of other reasons. They will put up with anything, spill their most intimate secrets, or do whatever it takes to get their face on the tube.

 Media people have learned to take advantage of all this. But, even when the media interviewer is being straight, he or she may not be well informed about anything -- except how to look confidently well informed.

 My first inkling of how fundamentally ill-informed some of even the big names on television are came back in 1981, when I was interviewed on "Meet the Press." Back in those days, the interviews were done by a panel of reporters.

 Their questions and comments revealed incredible ignorance. The reporters in turn were incredulous when I said that Social Security was financially unsound. Now, 23 years later, everybody knows that.

 This column is a much better way for me to express myself in my own words, without games and without spin.

Thomas Sowell

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

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