Gotcha questions don't exist
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29-10-2015, 01:40 PM
Gotcha questions don't exist
A "gotcha question" is one that is set up to deliberately trap or embarrass the interviewee. People will often complain about the media employing these for cheap points. The catch is: they don't exist in any meaningful way. They're just a cop out for a person who isn't good at speaking off the cuff.

Figure, a gotcha question is going to take one of two forms:
  • It's formed in such a way that any answer will be "bad". Take the famous "When did you stop beating your wife?" question.
  • It's a genuine hard question, and it can't be answered without looking bad due to circumstance (i.e. picking between cutting taxes or cutting benefits).
But neither of those are actually "gotchas":

Craftily formed questions: Again, let's take the "When did you stop beating your wife?" question. The issue here is that the interviewer is assuming the conclusion in the premise, and is unnecessarily narrowing down the possible answers. Correct answers to this type of question would be:
  • "I never beat my wife", or
  • "You're assuming the conclusion in your premise. If you want me to answer your questions, ask them in such a way where you haven't already answered them, yourself."
See? It's not even that hard. Anyone who falls for this type of question is likely not cut out for public speaking. Sure, it's duplicitous, but it should be super easy to avoid.


Hard questions: If the question is an actual hard question, it deserves an actual answer. That's the whole point of discussing these types of issues. If the interviewee is running for office, people need to know their stance on this. Being forced to pick between two unpopular decisions isn't unfair, unless, there's a better, third option. And if their is, please, tell us. Don't cry "gotcha question!" when someone asks you to give the particulars of your pet policy.


I think the popularity of this phrase is, in part, because everyone hates the first type of question I mentioned, and people can invoke it when asked hard questions to try and dodge issues. Every time I hear or read this phrase, my eyes involuntarily roll.
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29-10-2015, 02:38 PM
RE: Gotcha questions don't exist
I'm assuming this in in regards to the GOP debate last night when they railed against the moderators. While your argument is valid, this is mostly a semantical argument which obscures a reality in political coverage by the media. While the "gotcha!" flag does get raised as a cover for incompetence, it's also true that when it comes to embarrassing politicians, the media drives that bus with deliberate intention.

CNBC couldn't moderate for shit, this was a completely unfamiliar platform for them to host and it showed. What was supposed to be a two hour event dragged 30 minutes overtime because the panel was feeble in its attempts to curtail excess speaking time; they ceded to the candidates everytime they talked for more than the alloted time and submitted to each interruption. Plus the questions the moderators fielded and the mentality of their counter-responses demonstrated an eagerness to catch candidates with their pants down. That's fine and all, watching politicians squirm is one of our favorite national pastimes, but you're supposed to let them do it by their own hands, not transparently display that intention and field them questions designed to portray them in a negative light even before they answer. The CNBC definitely didn't know how to do the hands-off approach and that drew unanimous ire from the candidates.

I don't exactly sympathize on them for that matter, since politicians participate in the exact same type of mud-dragging, but when the media does it, lashing back has proven both a popular and very successful tactic in terms of constituent party support, especially with Republicans who distrust the mainstream media. The candidates played their cards right last night and preached to the choir by attacking the bungled moderators as a symptom of broader media bias against them. That's the first time the entire GOP contender field, in what has so far been a fractured period in the Republican Party, have managed to so effectively unite during this election cycle.

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29-10-2015, 11:10 PM
RE: Gotcha questions don't exist
Apparently we have a bunch of victims aspiring to the Presidency.

If you wind up looking bad in public the mirror is the place to find the remedy.

Trump's closing comment was telling. He'd negotiated the debate clock down so "we could get the hell out of here". Here's a man running for public office who can't be bothered to take the time to answer to the public. Fuck him. Fuck him and his fellow victims. Gad what a pathetic parade of witless but sanctimonious pricks. The media is not what makes them look bad.
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29-10-2015, 11:52 PM (This post was last modified: 29-10-2015 11:55 PM by Stevil.)
RE: Gotcha questions don't exist
(29-10-2015 01:40 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  "When did you stop beating your wife?"
I wouldn't really call it beating her. I mean, she likes to get a bit rough in the bedroom, you know. It first started off with her asking me to spank her. I was like, "Really, you want me to do that?", I mean it's just a bit too kinky for me, I don't get any kicks out of giving her a spank, I actually find it quite a turn off. But she really likes it, so I'm trying to be her perfect and obliging husband. As it progressed she wanted me to go harder and harder, then she got into role playing, ya know, pretending as if we are having a raging argument, I'm then 'sposed to slap her around and then force a kiss onto her, she resists and then all that aggressive passion just turns into sexual passion, ripping clothes off, biting and shit. Quite frankly I find it too staged, too predictable, but I think she's seen it in a movie or something and thinks it's sexy. Anyway, you know, at least it gets her interested in sex.
But to directly answer your question. I tend to stop beating her once I've got her all warmed up and ready for sex.


But about alcoholics, they think they just have the odd drink or two, but generally you can tell that they are alchoholics because they are in denial. Are you an alcoholic?
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30-10-2015, 07:23 AM
RE: Gotcha questions don't exist
(29-10-2015 11:10 PM)Airportkid Wrote:  Apparently we have a bunch of victims aspiring to the Presidency.

If you wind up looking bad in public the mirror is the place to find the remedy.

Trump's closing comment was telling. He'd negotiated the debate clock down so "we could get the hell out of here". Here's a man running for public office who can't be bothered to take the time to answer to the public. Fuck him. Fuck him and his fellow victims. Gad what a pathetic parade of witless but sanctimonious pricks. The media is not what makes them look bad.

The questions were juvenile. There weren't very many policy questions. Even left leaning journalists and media types are pointing out how ridiculous it was.

The candidates are now planning to get together on Sunday and find a way to change the way these debates are handled.

"Evil will always triumph over good, because good is dumb." - Lord Dark Helmet
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30-10-2015, 07:49 AM
RE: Gotcha questions don't exist
(29-10-2015 02:38 PM)Tartarus Sauce Wrote:  I'm assuming this in in regards to the GOP debate last night when they railed against the moderators. While your argument is valid, this is mostly a semantical argument which obscures a reality in political coverage by the media. While the "gotcha!" flag does get raised as a cover for incompetence, it's also true that when it comes to embarrassing politicians, the media drives that bus with deliberate intention.

This put it back in my mind, but my point is made irrespective of the debate earlier in the week.

Basically, I think the phrase should stop being used, and the people being interviewed should just call the questions for what they are. If the questions are unfair, poorly formed, are begging the question, or whatever, say that. Say "I'm not going to answer the question because you are unnecessarily constraining me to two positions", or "You're assuming your conclusion in your premise. Stop that.", or whatever. Crying "gotcha question!" is lazy.

If it's a hard question, they should have to answer it. Crying "gotcha question" is weaselish and dishonest.

Basically, any time this phrase is invoked, it's either due to laziness, the speaker not understanding why the question is unfair, or an outright lie on their part to dodge a hard question.


(29-10-2015 02:38 PM)Tartarus Sauce Wrote:  CNBC couldn't moderate for shit, this was a completely unfamiliar platform for them to host and it showed. What was supposed to be a two hour event dragged 30 minutes overtime because the panel was feeble in its attempts to curtail excess speaking time; they ceded to the candidates everytime they talked for more than the alloted time and submitted to each interruption. Plus the questions the moderators fielded and the mentality of their counter-responses demonstrated an eagerness to catch candidates with their pants down. That's fine and all, watching politicians squirm is one of our favorite national pastimes, but you're supposed to let them do it by their own hands, not transparently display that intention and field them questions designed to portray them in a negative light even before they answer. The CNBC definitely didn't know how to do the hands-off approach and that drew unanimous ire from the candidates.

I haven't really heard anything good about CNBC's handling of the debate.
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