Clark’s questions – on the U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya; stimulus money for the politically connected, Colorado-based Abound Solar; and the lack of civility in the Presidential race – represented a departure from the softball interview questions sitting presidents usually face in local markets.
Kyle graciously agreed to answer some of my emailed questions about the interview and the wide-ranging reactions to it.
Q: How was the decision made for you to be the one to interview President Obama?
A: As I understand it, the interview was offered to 9NEWS by President Obama’s campaign and our news director, Patti Dennis, asked me to conduct it. I’m not sure why I was selected; I’m not our political reporter, but like any player called off the bench by the coach, I just tucked in my jersey and hit the court.
Q: You have developed a reputation for asking hard-hitting questions, particularly as part of the 9Wants to Know investigative team. Did President Obama’s team push back when they learned you would be the one asking the questions?
A: I’ll be sure to mail you $5 for saying that. If President Obama’s team pushed back about me conducting the interview, I never heard about it.
Q: How did you prepare for the interview and select the questions you would ask?
A: I’m a political junkie who follows the campaigns pretty closely so I had a good idea which issues the candidates had already addressed head-on. We have no shortage of canned political messages on-air in Colorado, so my goal was to ask timely, tough, and fair questions that would elicit previously unheard answers on critical issues like Libya, the use of stimulus money and the tone of the race. I wrote out questions the night before the interview and ran them past about 10 people at 9NEWS to ensure that they were fair and addressed issues of interest. The morning of the interview, I adjusted our question on Libya to reflect recent comments made by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to the Associated Press.
Q: President Obama’s answers were perhaps a little longer than you might have expected. What were the next two questions you would have asked him if you’d had the time?