Thursday, September 22, 2005
"You are stuck on stupid": That's what Lt. Gen. Russel Honore told a reporter at a news conference the other day. When you're in elementary school, and even through high school, teachers encourage students to ask questions by telling them, falsely, that "there's no such thing as a stupid question."
While they are rarely called on it, journalists know there are stupid questions. I can't recall if any journalism professor ever explicitly told me that, but it becomes clear quickly that such questions do exist when you start working as a reporter. The classic one is asking someone who has recently suffered the loss of a family member, either from some natural disaster or crime or something else notable enough to draw a reporter, "how they feel" about the loss. This is a stupid question.
Another stupid question: The TV reporter who was covering a press conference at Vandenberg Air Force Base where the Air Force was answering questions about an "unmanned" rocket that they destroyed when it went off course. Reporter: "How many people were on board?" This is 2x stupid. First, the public information officer just told you it was "unmanned." Second, there has never been a manned launch from Vandenberg. Never. And if you'd been around for more than 5 minutes you'd know that.
So, a three-star general gives us a new phrase for the stupidity -- one that will be used for some time to come.
I like it.