It happened with a group of friends at lunch last Friday. Asked a simple question, actually two, my answer was revealing, if not insightful. I had not thought about it in the terms the answer now implied.
The question: who was the worst interview I had experienced on air?
The answer: Bill Nelson.
When asked why, the response was easy. There was no substance to his answers. Questions on complicated issues received very simple yes and no answers. While early in my radio career, and I would hopefully be better at drawing those answers now, it was clear that Nelson was a party line, no need to know the issues kind of senator.
The follow up question was not the best interview but who was the second worst. It was an instant answer and it was a bit scary! You see the second worst interview of my career happened to be with Nelson’s Republican opponent for the US Senate seat Nelson now holds, Rick Scott. The interview was early in Scott’s first term as governor. He had appeared on the show as a candidate and once or twice already as governor.
On this day, the governor was not good. While his office had an agenda for the call, and I suppose he made his points, I do not do scripted interviews and I don’t limit my questions to the guest’s chosen topic. I go where I like, when I like and I expect guests to be ready. He’s the governor of the third largest state in the union and if he’s running the show, the answers should be readily apparent to him. They weren’t. He was shaken by off topic questions and I called his handlers to advise them.
Rather than take friendly advice and constructive criticism, they decided Scott should be the emperor with no clothes and shielded him from a dissatisfied talk show host. The yes men around the governor did him no favors. He eventually got better, but he’s never been back on my show. I make it a habit to not chase politicians.
So now we have the two worst interview subjects of my radio career facing off for the United States Senate. The implications of that are funny…and scary. Politicians are nothing if not communicators and here we have two of the worst.
Credit to Governor Scott- he has learned and gotten better. As for nelson, he’s still a party hack who has not served Florida well. Scott is running a good campaign against Nelson so far, and I am glad he is.
I’m just pretty sure I don’t want to ask either of them about the race!