Newsom stays on the record

I have a lot of respect for local television reporters who can go in and conduct a really tight and tough interview when the cameras are rolling. Earlier this week, Hank Plante, a veteran reporter for KPIX, a Bay Area CBS affiliate, sat down with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Newsom recently folded up his campaign to become the next governor of California, and much of the interview focused on the Mayor’s scant public profile and behavior in the days after he quit the race. Newsom was clearly unpleased with this line of questioning, though that didn’t deter Plante.

And while Plante’s doggedness and multiple approaches—and Newsom’s calm but terse pushback—make this interview a good watch, what’s really impressive is what the channel chose to do at the end of the piece.

Viewers were shown the scene the cameras captured after the formal interview wrapped up. The mayor put his microphone hook-up down on his chair and started to walk out of the room. On the way to the door, he turned to Plante and said “Off the record, I’m amazingly disappointed. Amazingly. I just am. Personally, you know?”

When the station aired the interview, the anchor asked Plante to explain to viewers why the mayor’s comment, offered after he said the words “off the record,” had been broadcast. Here was Plante’s answer:

“Simply put, a reporter has to agree with an interview subject that something is off the record. It’s not up to them to simply declare that’s the case.”

That sounds right to me. And it was certainly right for the station to explain the way off the record should work to its viewers.

Watch it below:

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.