Interviewers have two chances to ask one question. Any attempt at achieving clarity beyond two is considered badgering. How much dodging can the interviewee engage in? As much as they want.
Rule two. Interviewers cannot point out unresponsive replies. “Guests” on television are to be treated with respect, even when they duck, dodge, and weasel, their way through every attempt at reaching actual fact. Best example? Financial firms and their managers.
“Stocks are going down because people are selling.” –Steven Bell, BMO, CNBC, 12-21-18, 3;00AM, EST.
Voicing the obvious can be clarifying. Relying solely on the underlying and obvious is dodging. Those who dodge either have nothing to say, or they are angling away. Are these points themselves, obvious? Let’s dig deeper.
Avoidance comes in many forms. Politics has clearly shown the principal avoidance tactic. “The pivot.” The pivot seeks to misdirect through various means, including redefining the issue, refraining the question, or distorting or questioning fact, distancing, or simply ignoring the entire inquiry. Nothing truly new here. But let’s look at this incredibly annoying practice.
Guest; “We really like the financials here.”
Interviewer: “Who specifically do you like?”
Guest; “Well, financials haven’t gotten a bid so far this year, but we see that changing.”
Interviewer; “Who’s catching a bid now?”
THE CLASSIC PIVOT-–
Guest; “Well, catching a bid is tough in this market.”
Guest; “Catching a bid is really when we see institutional buying.”
CLASSIC PIVOT–WALK BACK;
Guest; “We don’t see the sector as a whole moving strongly, but…”
CLASSIC PIVOT–REDEFINING THE PREMISE;
Guest; “It’s not so much individual stocks, as much as the improving underlying…”
Versions of the Cow Pie response are truly endless and ubiquitous. Actual answers to the question asked is unusual. The dog-and-pony show is rather the rule. CNBC requires guests. Financial firms sell products and services. That requires advertising. And there it is. Sometimes the process produces nuggets worthy of our time. Often we realize much more listening to the quiet munching of cows. Or water buffalo.