Tea Party darling Christine O'Donnell, who tried and failed to win Joe Biden’s Delaware senate seat last year, did what all politicians eventually do, write a book. And, as all authors do, Ms. O’Donnell set about to promote Troublemaker, as the publication is aptly titled. One of her first stops was a one-on-one interview with the heir to Larry King’s CNN throne, Piers Morgan.
Mr. Morgan, who was groomed in the now-infamous British school of aggressive journalism, went right for the jugular, quizzing Ms. O’Donnell about her own infamous statements (made for posterity — and ready playback — on television) about witchcraft, abstinence, masturbation, and gay marriage. At first, she attempted to laugh off his questions by saying, “Let’s not go there,” but as Mr. Morgan persisted, she stiffened and defaulted to another line of defense, saying that her positions are covered in the book. Undeterred, Mr. Morgan pressed on: “You keep saying, ‘It’s in the book,’ I’m bemused at why you wouldn’t just say it in an interview if you say it in the book.” But she continued to duck his questions and, true to his bulldog form, he continued to ask them. Before long, Ms. O’Donnell accused her host of being rude and, not long after that, she stood up and walked off the set in the middle of the live broadcast.
The incident sent waves rippling through cyberspace and the media. Not unsurprisingly, it also vaulted Troublemaker to #2 in Amazon’s State and Local Government category — validating the classic media axiom, “The only bad publicity is no publicity.”
But the central publicity issue in the flap was Mr. Morgan’s having called Ms. O’Donnell on the gap between writing about her position and discussing it on air. By accepting an appearance to be interviewed, she is fair game and has to be prepared for all manner of questions. Surely, her handlers had to have anticipated that any interviewer worth his salt — and Mr. Morgan is as salty as they get — would pursue the juiciest subjects. Apparently, her handlers did not and so, because Ms. O’Donnell couldn’t stand the heat, she had to get out of the kitchen.
Those are the rules of the game.