SHORT TAKES: “That’s A Lie!” – Handling Difficult Guests On Air

By M.Zulkifli

Have you ever wondered what a TV anchor/host feels when interviewing a difficult guest? How do YOU feel watching it on TV?

If you’re the anchor or host, it’s really the ultimate test of your professionalism. I have interviewed hundreds of guests on air including politicians, government officers and celebrities, and I’ve had quite a number that took me to the very limit.

There are different types of guests, of course. Some would just reply with one-liners (which is a BIG problem too), some would attempt to take over the show, while others understand the need to simply be succinct.

Then there are those whose opinions you personally stand against. This can be seen now on a daily basis on foreign news channels with TV anchors getting more and more exasperated at guests merely spouting propaganda and blindly defending positions.

If you cringe watching it, imagine what the likes of Don Lemon must be feeling? They’re only humans after all!

Again, it’s the ultimate test of one’s professionalism (and sabar!). Personally, I used to simply maintain a straight face and only correct factual errors. (Although there were times I really wanted to say: “That’s a lie!”) People are entitled to their opinions, whether you like them or not. Hit them hard with fair questions, but it’s not the presenter’s job to win the argument. Let the audience be the judge of that.

M.Zulkifli is the co-founder of Mymuslimin and a former ‘Malaysia Hari Ini’ Host.

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