I did what I could to answer Ben Strauss’ questions as well as I could, while still producing, occasionally popping on air when Clay asked me a question, and handling the phone calls. This was by no means me sitting in front of an interviewer, but Strauss relentlessly grilled me on all aspects of Outkick, my politics, and Clay’s brand of entertainment.
If you read the Politico article, you’ll notice he quoted me several times in the roughly 4500 word piece. I probably spoke over ten thousand to him myself, but he picked about six sentences. Before I discuss those, let me explain how the interview went down. I can’t accurately describe how many times I was asked some variation of this question:
So, did Clay Travis make a conscious decision to appeal to the right for monetary and celebrity purposes?
It wouldn’t just come as a question, as it would also include something like, “I mean you guys know what you’re doing, and it’s clearly working for you, but this was intentional, right?” That’s paraphrasing, but he felt the need to make up quotes and insinuations from me, so I’ll do the same to him. But, I’ll be courteous enough to admit it, and also won’t take him out of context, as he did to me.
I refused to give him the answer he walked in the door craving. This guy had an agenda, he had his title picked out, he had his “gotcha” piece scripted out in his head before he ever shook hands with either one of us this past Monday morning. To call this article biased and littered with manipulation would be a massive understatement.
Strauss would then ask the same question again, but with variance in the selected words, hoping I wasn’t educated enough to see what he was doing.
Didn’t you record your own copy of the interview? As Glenn wrote in the New York Post in 2008 after ABC edited a mashed-up video ransom note version of Sarah Palin being “interviewed” by Charlie Gibson, always bring your own video camera (or at least a digital audio recorder) to an interview. Just ask the folks who Katie Couric tried to gotcha last year.
And speaking of blasts from the past, Outkick’s Jason Martin writes:
Clay Travis isn’t alt-right in the least. I suggested to Strauss that I felt Donald Trump gave that incredibly small fringe movement a “wink and a gun” because he needed their support, and because he has no principles, merely interests. Correction, he has one interest, and it has five letters in its last name. The last four are “RUMP.”
Clay didn’t vote for Trump, and despite our many disagreements, he and I shared that in common. Never for a second did I consider Trump, and in fact as soon as he was the clear nominee, I officially registered as an Independent and removed the “R” from my name permanently. None of that matters to “journalists” like Ben Strauss, however. I’m alt-right because he and I wouldn’t necessarily vote the same way. I’m convinced most of the people that toss out “alt-right” like it’s a bodily function have no clue what it actually means.
Alt-right – for the media, it’s this decade’s version of calling everyone on the right “neocons,” ironically enough.
Clay and I gave this man access, we answered his questions, we tried to ensure he had all the information he needed to write an article worthy of his time. He interviewed me, he interviewed Clay’s wife (and asked her some RIDICULOUS, uncomfortable questions about the family now being on the wrong side of history), and he even spoke to Bobby freaking Bones about Clay.
This is the behind the scenes account of how one writer came in not to learn anything, not to be objective, and not to write an intriguing portrait of a controversial public figure, but to try and find a punchline for his bad joke.
After reading the article, the punchline is actually the byline. Go figure.
Just think of Politico as being largely staffed by Democrat operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense.