Geoffrey Stackhouse, Managing Director, Clarity Solutions
Every journalist knows that truth is the first casualty of war.
And we have seen daily proof in Australia and around the world. Particularly with MH17 and the Hamas/Israel conflict played out in our mainstream media and social media.
But what do you do when caught in a vicious cycle of hate in the media spotlight?
There are a few tried and trusted techniques, but it’s hard to go past 'grace under fire' which is clearly demonstrated in one of the most cringeworthy interviews where a religious scholar is attacked on Fox News.
Fox News anchor Lauren Green clearly thought she was opening her interview with religious historian Reza Aslan by asking a killer question:
"You're a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?
Set aside the religious content – it’s Christian versus Islam – and focus on how the interviewee stays calm and tries to bridge to his key message so he can spruik his book. It’s a long interview but the first three minutes give you the flavour of where it’s going (but 9:14 is a classic moment).
Even for Fox this interview shows new lows in broadcast journalism, but here's what I learned from Resa Aslan:
Keep calm and stay courteous at all times. When you give in to conflict and vent your anger you lose in the court of public opinion. Or more simply - never argue with an idiot, bystanders won’t be able to see the difference.
When you make a claim you need to back it up. Aslan calmly delivers compelling evidence to support his case, which makes the interviewer look even more foolish as she persists in her attack.
Focus on the facts: Outrage is the most powerful force in the world today – it manipulates public opinion and triggers the madness of the mob. When you see an outrage group in action, step back from the emotion and focus on the facts.