John Kerry Is the Latest Biden Official Facing Investigation
It's a Bird. It's a Plane. It's a...Chinese Spy Balloon Flying Over the...
Here Are Some Differences Separating the Biden and Trump Classified Doc Issues
Tucker Carlson Explained What Happened After He Invited Boris Johnson on the Show
Schools Keeping Sexual Secrets From Parents Is Nothing Short of Evil
A Resurrected Outlet Dies Anew
'Predicated on Lies': Massie Tears Apart Healthcare Vaccine Mandate
AOC Funneled Thousands Into Chinese Foreign Agent
WaPo Reporter Complains Rep. Roy Telling the Truth on Fentanyl Is 'Insidious Falsehood'
Biden's New Intelligence Advisor Had An 'Acute Mental Health Crisis' Following Trump's 201...
Newsom and CA DA Point Fingers At One Another After a Police Officer...
Americans Are Unhappy With Most Aspects of the Country, New Poll Shows
Trans Person Charged With Indecent Exposure for Using YMCA Women’s Locker Room
White House Press Briefing Hijacks Family and Medical Leave Act to Further Promote...
The Ohio Department of Education Is Investigating a 'Nazi-Based' Homeschooling Network
OPINION

Question: What's a Good Question?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
What should reporters ask President-elect Donald Trump at his first post-election press conference scheduled for Jan. 11? The answer isn't as simple as it may seem. Trump has not held a formal news conference for six months. He postponed until January the news conference promised for December. He refers to the press on Twitter as "the dishonest media." Trump seems to enjoy sparring with the media more than responding to the media.

Richard Grenell, who served as U.S. spokesman at the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, believes the press shoulders its own special burden -- having to "get their credibility back." He sees the 2016 vote as a repudiation of "the D.C. media circuit," which generally opposed Trump.

Former CNN correspondent Frank Sesno, author of the book, "Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change," agrees the public has come to see journalists "as partisans, as opposed to the chroniclers" of events. "There's a different kind of audience out there now," Sesno said, adding that reporters must be mindful of it.

Sesno advised journalists "to take the adjectives out of their questions." At news conferences, reporters shouldn't look like they're trying to make points, he said. That's no easy feat, as reporters also want to find answers to "some of these huge questions that go beyond the daily headline."

"I'm a big advocate that the press should focus on policy and not try to report on personality or let their agendas seep into their coverage," Grenell said. He favors reporters being very specific and avoiding a generic question.

I think a good question for Trump is: Is Russian President Vladimir Putin an ally? (It's not a gotcha question, but an honest attempt to decipher Trump's opinion of the Russian leader, apart from the hacking scandal.) Bad idea, Grenell responds. That question "can be interpreted to go 10,000 ways." For Trump, such queries can turn into a game, and Trump is "a master at messaging."

Bill Harlow, a former CIA spokesman and 15-seconds.com blogger, thinks it does not matter what reporters ask the president-elect. "He has mastered the art of answering what he wants to with little or no reference to the question," Harlow said.

Harlow also recommends asking very specific questions, like, "You said 'X' in 2010 and now you say 'Y' -- why did you change?"

Some former White House staffers offered these questions on the condition they not be named. I throw them out because they are the sort of questions reporters easily could ask. None is neutral.

--Do you trust the U.S. Secret Service? --Do you not trust the U.S. intelligence community? If you don't, who there is the problem?

--When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution?

--Did any Russians provide you debt relief during your bankruptcies? If so, what were their names?

--What is the start and end construction date for the wall?

--Are you going to fly Air Force One?

Even if you find all of those questions sufficiently specific and lacking in attitude -- for the record, I don't -- there's another hurdle. As Sesno noted, it's tough. "You only get one question," he said.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Recommended

Trending on Townhall Video