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Brent's blog: Give Miss Utah USA a break!

So what did we really discover Sunday in the Miss USA pageant? We discovered that Marissa Powell, Miss Utah USA, is not ready for politics -- at least not yet.
THE QUESTION

First of all, sure the answer was bad, but the question was bad too.

Trust me, I ask questions for a living.

Short questions with clear concepts get clear answers. Convoluted questions get convoluted answers and sometimes... a meltdown.

It happens to the best.

Recently, I interviewed an attorney live on ABC 4 Utah. My question was embarrassingly long. The attorney started to answer, but it was obvious he was struggling. And then came the meltdown. "I'm sorry," he confessed. "I'm nervous. I forgot what you asked me!"

He's an attorney! He's accustomed to debating the fine points of the law before severe judges. He's cross-examined cleaver, difficult witnesses. He's made impassioned closing arguments before skeptical jurors. He's a smart man. But put him in front of a TV camera and then ask him a ridiculously rambling question and even he has a meltdown.

That reminds me. I need to call him and apologize.

Now, let's look at the question put to Marissa Powell:

"A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?"


Not horrible, but it is actually three complex issues in one question: 1) Women are primary wage earners in 40% of American households, 2) Women continue to earn less than men, 3) Is society to blame?

Give me a computer and a few hours and I can come up with something approaching an answer addressing all the issues raised. But in 40 seconds or less? Under the pressure cooker of national, no, world TV?

You've got to be kidding me.

THE ANSWER

Professional politicians can do it. Oh, they won't answer the question, but they'll segue into some rehearsed position statement.

Haven't you noticed? No politician worth his salt has given a straight answer in 30 years.

Instead, here's what he'd say: "I think the core issue to all of what you just brought up in your excellent question is education. I firmly believe we need to redouble efforts to invest in educating young women in math, engineering, technology..."

You get the picture. Forget the question, just stay "on message" which means deliver the lines that you rehearsed.

So what did we really discover Sunday in the Miss USA pageant? We discovered that Marissa, Miss Utah USA, is not ready for politics -- at least not yet.

And, given the approval rating for politicians (somewhere down there with serial killers and thugs that steal candy from babies) I'd say, that's just fine.

MARISSA WILL HAVE THE LAST LAUGH

Already, she's been in New York for appearances on the Today Show and Inside Edition, now it's on to Los Angeles and Jimmy Kimmel that you can see tonight (Tuesday) on ABC 4 Utah.

Every columnist, entertainment reporter and two bit blogger (that's where I come in) has written about her. Not bad for the 3rd runner-up. And Nightline (on ABC 4 Utah) has even looked at our "Hater Nation" - why we are so quick to seize on mistakes to tear down others.

Everybody is talking about Marissa. Can you name the actual winner?


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