Transcript: Ray Suarez 2006

Daniel Nanas: Tomorrow we’re going to meet with Robert Zoellick.

Ray Suarez: One of the smarter guys in Washington, Robert Zoellick.

Sadanand Maillard: We saw that cut of the two of you, that was a good interview. How’d you feel about that conversation?

Ray Suarez: Well, there’s always a feeling that they know far more then they’re telling you, so you can never push yourself away from the desk thinking, “Got that one.” This is one of the most closed-mouthed, secretive, and protective of information administrations in history. So, you never feel when interview anyone from the Bush administration that they’ve told you, alright, them telling you everything they know is more then you could hope for, but even everything you should know or could know. It’s a bit of a frustration.

Sadanand Maillard: What I noticed about that interview was that he reminds me of Pickering??? in the way he talks, kind of around the subject. In stuff I’ve read of his where he’s met with the press in other countries, there are a lot of words and not a lot of information. What I noticed in the interview with you was that he was much more direct then I usually see him. So how do you prep for that?

Ray Suarez: Hopefully that’s a function of the questions you ask. You can’t come into the office in the morning knowing nothing about Darfur, and be ready in the evening to do that. Theoretically, you’ve been following Darfur all along, so that when it finally crosses your plate, you’re not ready, but ready to get ready, you know. You just hop up your tank, rather then trying to fill it from scratch. I had a radio documentary on the air yesterday about Darfur, its something that I’ve been following a fair bit.

Kendra Froshman: So do you spend everyday catching up on news, to make sure you’re always ready for what happens?

Ray Suarez: You’re always tracking twenty, or so stories that there’s a reasonable expectation of going to cross your desk at some point, so that you’re never starting from scratch, you should never be starting from scratch. Well, sometimes, obviously. In a world as multi-faceted as this one there’s going to be something you missed. But then you start out way ahead of the audience, anyway. You just have to get ready enough to do your work at the end of the day.

Sadanand Maillard: That’s like the lawyer joke about the two lawyers that meet the mountain lion. One of them is dropping his pack to run, and the guy says, “You can’t outrun a mountain lion.” He says, “I don’t have to, I just have to outrun you.” Like that right, you have to stay one foot ahead.

Ray Suarez: I mean we’re trying to bring the public along, too. So it’s more like putting the bit in your mouth and pulling the public over the next hill.

Casey Lightner: Hi, I’m Casey.  I was wondering, what’s your basic mission as a correspondent?

Ray Suarez: The basic mission is to take part in a collaborative effort, because everything in this business is collaborative. And produce a program that gives members of the public the tools they need to be a citizen. Give them day, after day, after day, a reasonable view of the world that leaves them at the end of that process, with a handle on what happened that day that they should know about. Some days that may mean taking a very high profile role and anchoring the program, some days it may mean doing something a lot less apparent and a lot less obvious contribution to the program. Really, you’re putting your whole experience to work, and becoming part of that daily project.

When you do something like produce a daily news program, you really start from scratch every morning. It’s like working in a bakery. So, the News Hour is unusual in that it’s both more hierarchical and less hierarchical then other programs that resemble it. I’m one of the highest paid utility infielders in news. I go in most days not knowing exactly what I’m doing to be doing, but doing whatever is needed.

Mark Hansen: Hi, my name is Mark. With a Bachelor’s in African History and a Master’s in Social Science, journalism was not a forgone conclusion. When did you know that this was the path for you?

Ray Suarez: I guess I really made up my mind around fifteen. I really knew that I wanted to be a reporter; I wasn’t convinced that it would be one kind or another. I put together a set of preparatory experiences would have gotten me ready for various parts of the news business, it wasn’t that important to me at that time which one I ended up in.

I worked for my high school news paper, I worked for my college news paper, I worked for my college radio station, one year serving as news director, one year serving as program director, and in my senior year I was an editor of my college news paper. I chose African History because Africa, at that point, was going to be the scene of some of the final chapters in the Cold War. When I started college there were three very hot civil wars going on in Africa, and there were Soviet and American Proxies on the ground in countries all over the place.

I just was fascinated by Africa, but backed the wrong horse. It was really Central America that got the American news business, and no one would send me to Africa. No one would employ me in Africa. I was doing that because I thought this would be a career making, fascinating place to be working, so I got ready to go there, and then the American news business was totally, utterly uninterested in Africa. Africa did end up being a great story through the 80’s and 90’s, but my career by then had taken other turns. I did get to do reporting trips in Africa from time to time, and I’m sure I’ll do others. So, there’s no such thing as waste inventory. There’s nothing that you learn that’s totally a waste of time, especially in the news business where everything you learn comes up again. You just don’t now when.

John-Nuri Vissell: So, you prepared for any career that might present itself. Are you ever surprised at where you ended up today?

Ray Suarez: Totally surprised. I never intended to, or wanted to live in Washington. I never intended, or particularly set my sights on working at the News Hour. A career in the news business is often the result of a series of accidents. It would have been impossible for me to plan a career path like the one that ended up rolling out in front of me.

I ended up working in television, which is something I never intended to do. I really love radio, I think that’s my first love, but I’m very happy in television. I just happened to hit a brick wall at one point in radio, and the opportunity to work in television presented itself so I just took it. That training led to other jobs that I never intended to work in, either. So, if you meet somebody who’s eighteen who says they’ve got their life all planned out, take them aside and tell them they’ve no idea what they’re talking about. And if they plan a career in the news business and tell you they’ve got it all planned out, tell them they’re nuts.

Andrea Schmitt: Hi, I’m Andrea. Did you have any mentors or inspirational figures in your life that have helped you along the way?

Ray Suarez: I wish I did. I could’ve used them, and it would have been nice. To be a Puerto Rican guy from Brooklyn, trying to make it in the national news business in the 80’s and 90’s and 00’s, there really was no one to mentor you, you were fighting the business the whole way. I grew up in New York City, at a time where there were two million Latinos in the city, and none in the news rooms. It’s a disgrace, and when I became a producer for the ABC radio network, I was the first staff producer, first Latino staff producer at the biggest radio network in the country.

And that was 1982. No way should it have gotten all the way to 1982 without them being able to find anybody, from coast to coast. It’s ridiculous. They were eventually sued, settled out of court for millions, in a failure to hire and promote suit that was brought by black and Latin employees. I was the first Latino staff correspondent at CNN, I was the first Latino street reporter for the NBC O and O in Chicago, and the first Latino host of a daily news show at NPR. And, I don’t say that with any particular amount of pride. I say it with almost a sense of shock, that I could have been the first of any of those things, coming along as late in the game as I did.

Sometimes it was out and out racism; sometimes it was just cluelessness. But whatever made it happen that was the shape of the business though much of the time I was coming up in it. Things are significantly better now, and they get better all the time. But, you found yourself constantly trying to breach walls that were erected to keep people out of places. And, I never had a sense that I was being welcomed, cultivated, brought along, prepared for bigger jobs down the road, and all of that. It’s been more of a thirty year street scrap, with no rules. This month, May, is my thirtieth anniversary in the business. This week I started my first paid job in the news, thirty years ago.

It really is nice to see, I go once a year to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Convention, and I meet young people who are being located, cultivated, brought along, identified early in their careers, moved into smaller properties in large diversified media companies, to be trained and risen within the company. That’s one of the fundamental changes since I was first getting started. So, it’s great to have a mentor, its great to have somebody who’s got your back, maybe someday I’ll find one.

Seychelle deVries: I’m Seychelle. You have a reputation for being very good at getting people to open up. We talked about it a little earlier, but I was wondering if you maybe focus a little more on how you come into an interview and get the best out of it, on a more of a person to person level.

Ray Suarez: There are many reporters who, for their own reasons, and in their own way, want to give you the impression that they’re tough. And the reason they’re entering this encounter, and really an interview is an encounter, is that they are going to be you, or trick you, or trip you, or punch you, or something. In figurative terms. I’ve found, through my career, that if the first affect you present to your interview subject, in this encounter, is that you are well prepared, and ready to do business, and not looking to embarrass them, your able to cut through the preliminary nonsense. You’re able to avoid having to chase them around the desk. You waste less time. So, it often puts somebody at their ease to betray some knowledge of their subject. It often makes them realize, very close to the top, that they’re not going to be able to fob you off with their boiler plate, half revealing, quarter revealing answers. Which is just a trick of an interview subject to make you ask four questions instead of one, when they both know, you know, they know you’ve only got nine minutes.

It’s a very discipline doing it live into a finite window on the News Hour, from doing an interview when you’re preparing for a magazine article, or a newspaper article, or an edited radio piece where you’re going to do interviews and then take small bits of it to include in your story. Then, if you’re doing a piece that’s edited, you can really spend time laying the foundation, narrowing your focus of your questions, pressing them when they don’t answer you. The task and the tricks of the trade are just different when you’re doing it live, into an already known to be finite window. The person you’re interviewing know its finite, you know its finite, and you can’t waste a lot of time on preliminary nonsense. So, I find that putting people at their ease, and also giving them the distinct impression that you know what you’re talking about, works as a gambit far better then, “I’m gonna get you,” which works for some people, but they are more in show business than I am. I’m in the news business. I’d rather get the person to tell me about the news then beat them. Whatever that means.

Megan Mitchell: Hi, I’m Megan. In journalism it is crucial to get your story, but is there a line between getting your story and respecting people’s privacy? And, if so, where is that line, and when is it ok to cross it?

Ray Suarez: This is something that you encounter much more in local news, and much less at working in Washington with national affairs and foreign affairs. But, I’ve certainly enough times in my life come against it. Unfortunately, in unfortunate ways, the business has changed its conception of where the line is and what it means to cross it, and whether it’s in their interest to cross it. I don’t care that much about the private lives of public people, unless in the course of that private life they are breaking the law, or misrepresenting themselves. If they’re just carrying on a private life that they intend to keep private, and isn’t hurting anybody, then who cares, really. I know that they’ll probably come and confiscate my news guy card at the end of this.

I really just don’t care, yet I know that if public figures in Washington turn out to be leading lives in their private realm that are less then admirable, there are plenty of my peers in the business who think that it’s a tremendous story and worthy of play on the front page. So, its gets out one way or another, I guess. When people are involved in an event, over which they had no agency, no control, were not involved in making or shaping an even, but were accidental participants in circumstance. I think their privacy rights are more sacred then somebody who knowingly enters the public realm to do their business, do their work.

I used to fight with my editors and producers a lot when somebody was the victim of a crime, or involved in an accident, and the news business was trying to suck their families into the vortex of their storytelling, in a way that victimized them, made them sort of pathetic, sad, creatures on public display. I wasn’t sure what that enlightened, who it informed, and to what end. So I always tried to avoid it. It also makes you feel pretty shabby, frankly, when you’re the person knocking at the door to get somebody to make a statement about the killing of their son or daughter, what the hell are they going to say. And to what end, what is the public going to know about their grief, about their sort of crushed horizons and the loss of somebody that they loved, that will inform the public about something that they wouldn’t have known about otherwise, or need to know to carry on their lives. Arguably, nothing.

Once a guy, a young guy, who was going to Indiana University in Indianapolis, from Chicago, he was a student down there, and worked nights delivering pizzas. He got murdered delivering a pizza in Indianapolis, and my producers sent me to the family home in the Chicago Suburbs, to get them to say something. And I fought all the way out there over the radio, because I said it was stupid and I didn’t want to do it, and what was the point. The crime didn’t even happen in Chicago, so it doesn’t tell our viewers anything about life in Chicago, which would tell them anything they needed to know, and it would just exploit this family’s grief to make television out of it.

But they threatened me with suspension if I didn’t do it, so I went to the door, and knocked on the door, and a man who had clearly been crying came to the front door and started yelling at me. I thought, “You know, sir,” I didn’t say this to him, “You should yell at me. This is totally stupid.” I said I was sorry and closed the door, and I left him alone. I always remember that because we, in the business, often assume that anything that happens to, with, or around a person, is fair game for us, whether it makes a story that means anything to people, or not. The business could be a little humane, a little more often, I think.

Jonji Barber: Hi, I’m Jonji. I was wondering if you ever regretted making a news cast, and if so, which one and why?

Ray Suarez: From time to time, because of the speed with speed with which we sometimes prepare things. You don’t get it a 100% right. You get it right in the realm of known facts at the moment you go on the air, but six hours later, twelve hours later, eighteen hours later, what you’ve said turns out to be wrong. I hate that, it just bugs me to have said anything that turns out not to be a 100% true into an open microphone. Of course, Suarez’s Law of Microphone Physics is that the more words you say into open microphones, the higher percentage that anything you say is going to be wrong eventually. I mean you just can’t, the more you’re on, you just can’t be right all the time. And the more you say; eventually you’re going to say something wrong. It is the thing, I hope, that bugs journalists more then anything else.

Are there specific and particular things? No, not big stuff. Occasionally when you’re writing the first draft about public knowledge of an event, or an issue, there are things that just can’t be known to you yet, and you sometimes get it wrong. The News Hour is very good about correcting things, even though that’s not one of our proudest moments, we do what’s called editor’s note at the end of the broadcast, and you won’t see other nightly news programs doing that. We correct even the smallest details, remind people that Tuesday night we did a story on XYZ, and we said this, and actually its that, sorry. It keeps us honest, because the terror of having to do that, no one wants to go back on television and say, “Remember that story I did Tuesday, well I was wrong. So it makes you even that more intent on being correct.

Naomi Magid: Hi, I’m Naomi. You spoke a minute ago about a story that had special meaning for you, are there any other stories that stand out for you?

Ray Suarez: Yeah, there are, tons of them, and for all different reasons. When the apartheid regime fell in South Africa through the ballot box rather then through a civil war, it was a great event in human history. All the seeds had been sown for a terrible, destructive, horrifying conflict in South Africa. But, everybody thought for a second before they did, and they didn’t do it. It was a great thing. After that first election, I sat in a very nice backyard garden in Johannesburg with a guy named Joe Slovo. Joe Slovo was the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party. He was a banned person, he was jailed, hunted, targeted, for much of his adult life and spent much of his adult life in exile. And while I personally had very little sympathy for his communist leanings, I certainly had tremendous sympathy for someone who was willing to give up so much of their lives to an idea and an ideal, to fight against an oppressive government. It wasn’t just being in exile, the South African secret police, for instance murdered his wife, who was also an activist. When they were living, what they thought, in a secret location in Angola his wife got into her car, turned the key in the ignition, and was blown to smithereens.

Joe Slovo was in his mid 70’s at the point when I met him, had every reason to be filled with bitterness and regret, about how his life had gone, and yet there we were. The birds were twittering in the branches, the flowers were out, and he was a man at peace ready make a government with people who had hunted him for his whole life. Totally uninterested in score settling, totally uninterested in retribution, in trying or jailing the people who had done the things to him that they had done. You come away very rarely from an interview sort of stunned by the greatness of spirit, the bigness of heart, which it takes to be somebody. That was one of those moments where you really realize it. Joe Slovo after living in hiding, and going to prison, and having members of his family targeted and killed, became the first minister of housing in the first post-apartheid South African government. Interesting guy.

When I interviewed Margaret Thatcher shortly after her time as Prime Minister, it was a much less genial time that I spent with her. But at the same time incredibly impressive because you understood immediately, I worked in Britain as a reporter in the early years of her time as Prime Minister, and walking away from the mic after an hour I totally got how she had been able to do what she did, and at the same time thought, “God, what a terrible person.” So, the public person and their use, their necessity to history, what possible difference could it make whether I would like Margaret Thatcher or not, or want to chummy with her, or have a drink with her.

I understood immediately after spending that time with her how people can come along and history makes them, and they make history at the same time. It’s a symbiotic relationship, its not just the times that make the person, its both happening at the same time. She was a particular mix of traits, and attributes, and beliefs that spoke to a country that had a particular and peculiar history up until that moment, and was ready for her to come along. So she took a decaying, sclerotic, country, which had been a wealthy one, and had made it poor, or poorer, over the previous two generations. She took it by its collar and shook it with a frantic energy, and set the table for Britain to become a wealthier, different place in the next decades after she was Prime Minister. Tony Blair is only possible because of Margaret Thatcher, and I would probably bug both conservatives and labor supporters by saying, but they, in longitudinal and historical terms, they created each other. It’s only a richer Britain that can elect Tony Blair, and its only one that had been undone the way Britain had been that could elect a Margaret Thatcher. So, history fits, its makes sense.

When I was in South Africa I met a woman named Rebecca, who was an entrepreneur. To be a black woman entrepreneur in South Africa is not always the easiest road. She rented a shipping container, those big rectangular metal boxes that move everything around the world, and she opened a store in a shipping container. She sold sheep parts everyday. She would go before the sun was up, buy from a middleman, bring the sheep parts in a Styrofoam insulated container, and sell them, and then when she ran out of stock for the day she would close the store. I asked her, “Gee, if you could get more sheep parts everyday, could you sell more?” She said, “Oh, absolutely! But the problem is, I can’t get more because I can’t get a refrigerator. I can’t get a refrigerator because I can’t get credit, and I can’t get credit because I have no credit history, and I have no collateral. When I walk into a bank and I say I would like to borrow three hundred dollars to buy a freezer, they tell me that its impossible to lend me any money because I have nothing to show incase I default on the loan.

Here was the predicament of her country written large. There was a developed world economy sitting side by side, and rubbing up against a developing world economy, everyday. She had to play by this set of rules that were totally irrelevant to her existence. Collateral? The woman woke up in a village every morning and walked several miles to that shipping container. She didn’t get in her SUV, drop her kids off at school, and head to her sheep parts distributor business. She was making it up as she went along but she could be richer, she could be richer and then, in turn, spending more money in her town. But it was for the lack of these three hundred dollars. It was one of those things, a “wah lah!” moment where everything becomes immediately apparent when she explains herself.

There were hundreds of thousands of Rebecca’s, scattered all across Southern Africa. I put this story on the radio, and an appliance salesman in Pretoria called. A white guy, who told me he had been listening to the radio, and heard the story, and as long as Rebecca had electricity, she was going to have a freezer. Because NPR was broadcasting its series of programs on South Africa in South Africa, he had been able to hear it driving in his car, and Rebecca, one person, was able to leap the hurdle that was in fact locking up all her potential. She was like a match that was covered in a fireproof container. She couldn’t be struck, and start really going with a business. She was smart, she was capable, she was strong, she was willing work long hours, but here was this little, ridiculous, barrier to her being able to support her family better and also pull the whole neighborhood up along with her. It’s nice when you get to explain to your viewers, listeners, readers, something that really is literally, metaphorical. I mean a metaphor is something that carries meaning; it’s a vessel that carries meaning. Rebecca’s story was able to explain the whole dynamic of what was locking up South Africa for the people who were trying to get ahead there.

Todd Wilson: In your book about suburban migration, you talk how the younger class moved out of what you called the “old neighborhood,” to a place where they could choose their neighbors, and how this eroded the whole “great melting pot” that was America. I was wondering what really drove you to research this topic and explore it as much as you did.

Ray Suarez: Well, I worked as a reporter in New York, London, Rome, Los Angeles, and Chicago. And, along the way, covered a lot of urban government, watched a lot of neighborhood re-segregation, and all the things that accompany it, and gradually got obsessively interested in cities and how they work. When Simon and Schuster asked me what I wanted to write about, I said cities, and they said great, so I wrote the book. It is an obsession, but a good obsession, a moneymaking obsession.

Daniel Nanas: It’s been said that often we know what we’re getting rid of but we forget what we’re losing. In the suburban migration and the upward movement of convenient and comfortable living in the suburbs, do you think we’ve lost something that is essentially American?

Ray Suarez: Well, by losing something that’s essentially American we also gained something and created something that’s essentially American too. Right now if you go to the outskirts of Prague, or Moscow, you don’t see architectural models based on seven hundred years of Russian history, or a thousand years of bohemian history being built outside Prague and Moscow. Its something based on fifty years of American history, because they’re building American-style suburbs with cul-de-sacs, streets that don’t meet at right angles, house that don’t face each other, residential only places with no commercial space, no sidewalks. You’re building the world model is becoming the American model, so don’t forget that we did that, too. Part of the reason that we forget what we’ve lost is because we want to justify shedding it, sloughing it off, losing it. So, we put it away and then either forget we ever had it, which is one way of making it make sense to ourselves, or denigrate it. Or, frequently, rhapsodize about it but also put it beyond reach.

So, when I interviewed a lot of people who had been in the first wave of getting out of the cities, they talk about how wonderful it was, and the great things that loved about the old, intact, densely built urban neighborhood, and then they end their story by saying, “Oh, but we could never live like that now.” Justifying it to themselves, and also imagining that millions of people are still living like that today, exactly the life they had described, in the places they had left behind. One of the things that make it easy to do that is that the people themselves have changed. So, Brownsville in Brooklyn, Bushwick which were working class Jewish neighborhoods fifty years ago, sixty years ago now, are now largely Puerto Rican and west-Indian neighborhoods. They think, “Oh, we could never live like that now,” not paying attention to the fact that the Puerto Ricans and Jamaicans who are living in the same apartment buildings are living just the way those people who rhapsodize about old Bushwick, are describing.

Some of that is human nature, some of it’s a way of justifying to yourself what you did, there’s no need to apologize for it. When we got richer as a country people just made different choices about how they wanted to live. What happened, happened, but you tell people still feel a little conflicted about it, because they traded that life in for something else that they weren’t sure they were getting into, and it hasn’t always be a very satisfying life. Those new style, newer style suburban subdivisions are very difficult places to get old, and be old. Now, as we’re on the verge of a real crashing demographic wave with seventy million people going to turn sixty in the next coming years, they’re going to discover the places they thought were their dreamscape for living are actually quite difficult places to be old.

Kristin Vant’Rood: From the government leaders we’ve talked to in the past few days we’ve seen kind of the behind-the-scenes view of government that the public doesn’t normally see. Is there a behind the scenes view of the news business, also, and is there something that we should understand about the news business that public never gets to see?

Ray Suarez: We work very hard to create the illusion that it’s easy, so it looks effortless, and it happens, but in fact we work very hard to make it look like it wasn’t hard. Also, we created illusion of having it all licked, and in fact the news business is the immediate art of the possible. You don’t put on the ideal story; because the ideal story takes more time then it’s really ever possible to devote to it. So we do what we can, when we have to, rather then the best possible when we get to it. That’s the tension, really in the news business, some people get it out of their system, some people are frustrated by it constantly, some people think that if they write books, like my new book is coming out Labor Day weekend, you think, “Oh well because it’s a long term project, and because its two hundred pages, you’ll actually have the time, but in fact a book is the art of the possible, too. It’s just the longer form of telling the story, and takes you much more in the way of grief and sweat to accomplish, but there are all kinds of surrenders in that, too.

If I waited to bring out this book until it was ideal, and everything was exactly right, and it was just what I wanted it to be, it would come out after anybody was interested in reading it. So, it operates as a piece of created intellectual property that isn’t all that different in some ways from a story that’s on the nightly news, tonight. It’s that art of the possible that really is the thing that people don’t know about us; it’s our nasty little secret. We do as well as we can, by when we have to. When the lights go on at six o’clock we have to present fifty four minutes of inventory, and it has to be as good as we can get it by six o’clock. And that’s our dirty little secret.

Seychelle deVries: Can you tell us a little about the book that you wrote?

Ray Suarez: Yeah, it’s about the way religion has become more publicly entwined with the way we do politics over the last twenty five years. The great thing about it is that it turned out way differently from the way I intended it to, and that means I really paid attention and stayed open to the way the story changed over time, instead of just writing what I went in intending to write. The project of talking to people, and reading court cases, traveling, didn’t just confirm the stances of an already made up mind. So, it constantly morphed as I found out more things. It’s going to annoy religious people and secular people, its going to annoy people who think politics should be more entwined with American religion, and its going to annoy people who don’t think it should be in there at all. I’m pleased by the way it’s going.

Nina Castanon: Hi, I’m Nina. Philosopher Jacob Needleman said, “We don’t suffer from our questions, we suffer from our answers. Most of the mischief in the world is caused by the people with answers, not from the people with questions.” As a professional question-asker, how would you respond to this?

Ray Suarez: You would not believe how many times people get mad at reporters because of the questions they ask, rather then the apparent inability or unwillingness to answer the question on the part of the interview subject. As if we are to blame for the situation that we’re asking questions about. So, Americans are very sensitive, so that process and Americans also carry a sort of personal, rough and ready appropriateness guide. They are offended by some questions, made angry by some questions, mad at the press, and yet they should be, they really should be demanding much better answers. And they’re not. When you watch the daily briefing at the White House press room, with the press secretary, there are days when they give answers they should be ashamed to give in public, they’re not, they know if they dodge and weave and avoid the public will eventually be mad at us for hectoring and asking, rather then mad at them for lying.

When the president steps before the microphones, and this is a all-partisan statement, its not just the current president its all presidents, for reasons that adhere to them and their personal fortunes as politicians, rather then the fortune of the state, as an ongoing enterprise, they lie and they dodge, and they avoid. I have very little interest in their personal success, their personal approval ratings, how their feel, whether they’re embarrassed or not, and I have a lot of interest in the fate of the country. So, I am quite often frustrated with them for the lies that they tell in service of their own faiths, rather then in service of protecting or the future prosperity and peace of the country. Its too bad, but lying to reporters has become just dead easy, in part because there are fewer reporters, given the amount of inventory there is to be produced, so we have very little time to check all the answers, we have very little time to run things down to earth, to find out, quickly, whether they are lying. They know they can get away with a lie for longer and longer, and by the time you find out they were lying, nobody wants to hear the story anymore. If three weeks after a news conference you realize that president X was lying, you run into your editor and say, “Remember that news conference he gave back in May, he was lying!” Who cares? Nobody cares. Policy makers at all levels realize they can get away with lying to the press for longer and longer periods of time. Who’s next?

Emily Crubaugh: I was wondering if you could interview anyone in the world, who would it be, and why?

Ray Suarez: Probably Nelson Mandela, because he’s probably not going to around forever; he’s ill. And I think there are just some great things to pick his brain about before he goes.

Ian Rusconi: We’re wondering, what is the most important piece of advice that you have for our generation?

Ray Suarez: Well, I have two high school children, and the advice that I give them is that they never have to be bored. And I tell them not to be bored. You know, a certain amount of frustrating dead time happens in every life, but really, if it goes on for too long, you’re just not trying hard enough. You have the minds, I hope you have the curiosity, to create the circumstances where you’ll never be bored. You should be constantly learning things, and as I alluded to earlier, there’s no such thing as something you learn that is a total waste. Learning creates its own value, and you may not know when it will come in handy, or what the next thing you learn will stand on, what foundation it will stand on, but really be voracious that way and constantly feed your head, your head needs a lot of feeding. It will make you more interesting, it will make you more exciting for others to be around. It will make you more curious just by the very act of learning new things, because that’s a sort of self sustaining cycle. By being interested, you become more interested, and more interesting at the same time. That’s my advice to your generation.