Giving Interviews
Published: 1999-11-01

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I’ve mentioned this story before, but it puts other matters in perspective to mention it again here.

About five years ago I was sitting at the computer in my garage in Visalia when the phone rang. It was Mike Wallace. He wanted to interview me for 60 Minutes. I suppose a booking agent had called earlier and I had refused. Wallace and I had a pleasant chat but I told him that I had decided to not do interviews for TV or radio that were not live. I was not happy with they way they were turning out.

A couple days later Wallace called again to ask that I change my mind. He was so decent about it, and so professional, that I changed my mind and told him that if he allowed David Cole to appear with me, that we would do 60 Minutes. Plans began to be made. After a couple days I called one of Wallace’s producers and told him I’d changed my mind and that I would not do the show because it was not live. Wallace rang me back a third time, but I stuck to my guns. When I saw the finished product, though it was not a bad piece of work, I could see that Wallace did not know what the story was and I was glad I had not given him anything.

When I first started doing radio, then TV, I never turned down an interview before the camera. After awhile I got tired of the way TV interviews in particular were handled. I’d be saying something perfectly ordinary about revisionist theory and on the screen behind me the viewer at home would see images of skeletal cadavers being bulldozed into mass graves at Bel-sen, or Hitler or one of his guys giving the seig heil salute.

The final (final) turning point came when I agreed to do the Mortem Downy TV show a couple months before the back and forth with 60 Minutes. I made an agreement with the Downy people that they were not going to pull the same old tricks while I was on the program with him. They kept to fire agreement. During commercials, however, there were the old newsreels of the Brits bulldozing skeletal cadavers into mass graves while I sat across from Downy waiting for the interview to be picked up again.

Print journalists are not much better. From one point of view they are just innocent. They really do not know what the story is. Journalists believe the revisionist story is about the resurgence of Nazism and hate. They’re not stupid, but they’ve been stupefied on this issue by the academics and their own rhetoric. I decided that I would not give live interviews to print journalists where I did not record the interview for my own use.

Last year I broke this rule with Harvey Gottlieb, a journalism professor at San Jose State University. I met with him at San Diego State and when we sat down to talk I found my audio recorder did not work. I asked Gottlieb if he would dub a copy of the tape he was making and send it to me and he said, sure, so I wait ahead with the interview. When I asked him for the dub he told me he had been advised that it would be best if he did not supply me with a copy of the tape. So there you are. The best rule of thumb when you work with media is that you keep to your rules of thumb.

Early this year I received telephone calls from two independent film companies asking for an interview. I turned them both down because the interviews would not be live—the form itself did not allow for it. One of the people who contacted me was working for the Errol Morris people, the company that made “Dr. Death” and which has gotten very interesting reviews.

Ernst Zuendel and Mark Weber both consented to be interviewed for the film. Ingrid Rimland and Zuendel are both very high on the film, tho not with out some reservations. Maybe my rule of thumb foiled me on this one, but I am not despondent. Up front, there is no way to know, and I don’t want to have to bother trying to “intuit“ the intentions of every media organization or journalist who approaches me.

My rule of thumb served me very well in April of this year when Avi Muchnick, editor-in-chief of the Queens College Quad, was going to run the $250,000 offer ad and wanted to interview me by telephone for an editorial that would be published the day the ad was run. I agreed to do the interview by email or fox, and that’s what we did. My experience with Avi reconfirmed my decision to not give any media a canned interview.

Avi and I had some back and forth via email, and when I got his first series of questions, the first questions was: “Do you consider the black race inferior to the white race? As a whole are they of equal intelligence?” I tried to get Avi to tell me what the hell that had to do with the text in the $250,000 Offer advertisement but he could not make it clear to me. He did not have to, of course, because I knew what it was about.

Over the last 30 days I have given a print reporter from an Ivy League university an interview via e-mail, turned down a request from a major German television station for a canned, on-camera interview, and am completing an interview with a Los Angeles Times reporter via email. Reporters representing the Hofetra Chronicle and the U South Carolina Gamecock interviewed me via fox and both worked out well.

I have lost a number of interviews because I do them my way now rather than their way, but I can live with it. Those I do give interviews to will not so easily make of me the mere playthings of uninformed or ill willed ladies and gents of the media.


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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Giving Interviews
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 65, November 1999, pp. 4f.
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Published: 1999-11-01
First posted on CODOH: Nov. 22, 2015, 10:36 a.m.
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