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October 24, 2006


Dave O.

Excellent post! There is no question that Clinton is the most articulate President in a long while (since Kennedy?).

But what about two other requisites for an effective presenter: honesty and sincerity? Here, on both counts, I would give Clinton much lower marks.

"I never had relations with that woman"- leaves lingering doubts in my mind regarding his honesty and his well known usage of polling data to influence his public positions gives me pause regarding his sincerity.

I'm interested in your take on these two points.


I do not think he's-human or he-was-provoked are acceptable reasons for losing your cool under fire. Presenters must be wary of being provoked, and respond in a calm, collected manner. You once posted a video of John Stewart on CrossFire, which I think was the perfect example of someone refusing to be provoked, and instead making his attacker look stupid.

That said, I do not think Clinton "lost it". I think he gained a lot of respect from the populace as someone who cares a lot about the questions asked, and possibly innocent of the charges because of his strong reaction. Maybe Clinton delivered his reaction to the populace and did not care about reporters; if so he succeeded.

Know your audience—I learnt that from you, Garr!


No doubt Clinton is a gifted orator. In fact, I don't agree with him polictically but when listening to him is becomes almost convincing, even to me. So by that admission there is much to learn on presentation skills.

But with respect to the Mike Wallace interview, I don't mind emotion but his answer, while on the surface sounding logically, it was anything but. Nothing more than sophistry.

Jan Korbel

First, I am from Czech Republic so I do not know that much about your political circuits. But is it just me or is the moderator on Fox News so "objective" and "sweet" that you would gladly have slap him (twice if possible)? I though that our moderators here were bad but this one is wicked.


Clinton has great insight in what he was asked about. I think he gave the answers that were needed for the occasion and for the kind of interviewer he got. I'm form Chile and at least here you have better reporters that do know how to ask questions. In turn you have here a reporter that doesn't understand such a concept as neutrality and literally "attacks" Clinton. Why? I think here we don't want to check upon the reporters viewpoint but Clinton's. I I think that Clinton is vindicated by the way he responds. He didn't keep his cool but he didn't go mad either. I'm sure this wasn't the first time he confronted such biased reporters. Plus, if you check the first video, the reporter that announces the interview only focuses on Clinton's little temper problem and the rest of the meeting was, to them, worth nothing, because he made a little "mistake" ion showing some kind of disappointment about the questions he got.
I liked his way of presenting his answers.
Great article!!!

W David Stephenson

Wow! This was kismet that you posted this piece
when you did: I'm heading to Worcester to hear Clinton rally the troops this afternoon for a sweep in November, so I'll watch him with a critical eye! Having been Mike Dukakis' speechwriter 30 years ago, I
know how critical the speaker's own personality can be: Dukakis in private is a warm, absolutely wonderful man (absolutely no question about his personal integrity, ever!) but he always came across as still on the stump.

Heidi Miller

After reading your commentary, I took a look at the interviews, and yes, I'd agree that Clinton was passionate but measured with his responses. He didn't lose his temper at all; he gave clear, concise, impassioned responses.

And this is an interesting case from a journalists point of view of dealing with asking hostile (or challenging at least) questions. As a humble speaker, podcaster and blogger, I'm gathering info on interview techniques for us non-journalists out there who are seeking to improve our skills and our content, hopefully to be presented at next year's PME. This is a great example of a journalist asking a tough question and dealing with an intelligent but impassioned response. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Reed Bailey

I agree Clinton is a "gifted communicator." He knows and effectively uses the techniques of public presentation. However, I noticed something long ago which makes me distrustful of his motives. I noticed his behavior. I had the television on without sound when Clinton made his (first term?) acceptance announcement. His body language made me pause. His body language made me feel he saw the USA as all his; that he owned the audience; that we were all his for the taking. Since then, from time to time (I didn't watch these YouTube clips) I watch Clinton speak (no sound). His body language continues to send me messages that do not match his words. I sense haughtiness, condescension and domineering egotism. Does any one else see or sense his body language does not match his words?

Jeff Langr

I tried to watch the Clinton interview from an objective standpoint. (disclaimer: I'm neither Democrat nor Republican, and feel both sides are wrong in most cases) What I saw was a very defensive man with a very aggressive posture (shifting in his seat and hunching toward the interviewer), pointing and jabbing. (When you point, note the direction in which your other fingers point...) I felt Clinton was menacing and intimidating, and that he intended to be so.

Indeed, Clinton is articulate and human in the interview. But being excessively defensive and acting cornered does not make for an effective presentation.

The only way I might view Clinton as an effective presenter in this case is if I happened to already sympathize with him.

Frank Roche

Very well done. I saw Mr. Clinton speak in person on a couple of occassions...one time in Philadelphia six weeks after his open heart surgery. We was very thin...and more quiet-spoken because he was still recovering. But he whipped the crowd into a frenzy...and was more rock star than the entire group of politicians there (including candidate John Kerry). It was really something, and as you say, it's because he connected with people. Amazing...when he was done, people didn't want him to go. How many speakers can say that?

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