Lacking a pulse of real people

I don’t normally watch cable news, but on Friday I had no choice. My sponsor at a command I was visiting hadn’t put in a visit request, so I had to sit in the lobby while my credentials were checked. On the TV was CNN, and they were showing their “Pulse of the People” segment, with the topic “Women on Trump.”

As I watched a good ten minutes of this, I picked up on a lot of nasty setup items that put people at disadvantages.

To start, there were six women being interviewed. Three were standing up, three were sitting. When the show of hands went up asking who voted for Trump, four women raised their hands: three sitting, one standing in the center…which is odd. In a meeting, the person leading the meeting is normally standing, and that often puts sitting people at a disadvantage. But hey, no matter, keep on going.

The CNN anchor asked the women who voted for Trump if they were happy. One responded that she liked the results he was getting but didn’t like him personally…not an uncommon response, and I think pretty fair. Another said she was really happy with him, and another not as happy. All three were the women sitting down.

The standing woman in the center was really not happy with Trump, saying his tweets were racist and sexist. Then one of the ladies who didn’t vote for him interrupted her and began slamming Trump.

Now, interrupting is a crude move. It’s especially nasty against women because all too often, women tend to stop talking and allow the interrupting offender to talk…which only encourages the person to dominate the conversation. And that is exactly what happened. For the rest of the interview, the two non-Trump voters spelled out all of Trump’s woes. I started timing it on my watch, and it was a 2.5 to 1 ratio of time spent on non-Trump over Trump. Worse still, two of the sitting women were repeatedly interrupted by the two standing non-Trump voters. This went on in a follow-on interview after a commercial break as well. Although I can’t find the segment on CNN’s website, from looking at other Pulse of the People segments, this isn’t uncommon.

Having now chaired a large number of meetings with diverse members, I learned a few years ago that some people just like to hear themselves talk, and as the meeting chair, you have to cut them off from interrupting others. All too often these people will dominate a meeting, and anyone that is introverted or not inclined to controversy (as many women are) lose the chance to present their ideas. On CNN, apparently those tactics are welcome and used to shut down any sort of debate…once again, confirming why I don’t watch cable news.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency.

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