It’s rarely wise to voluntarily engage in a media interview if the interviewer holds you in contempt. That rule does not apply if you are trying to sell a book.
Conrad Black, former newspaper baron and convicted felon gave two remarkable interviews recently on British television. Black (AKA Lord Black of Crossharbour) got out of jail in the U.S. in May after serving 3.5 years of a 6.5 year sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice. To say he still protests his innocence would be the understatement of the year.
He recently elected to undergo cross examination by two of Britain’s more aggressive prosecutorial journalists and he demolished both. If you are facing a tough interview, the clips below are well worth study. That is not to say that Black did everything right. He comes across as insufferably arrogant — perhaps the only charge to which he would plead guilty. In the Sky News video he displays terrible posture and forgets (or so claims) to know the name of Adam Boulton the person interviewing him. But he gives no quarter in batting back charges and does not let Boulton bully him in any way. Quite the contrary. Black freely admits he is appearing to help promote his book and asks his interviewer to hold it up for viewers – Boulton complies.
The interview with BBC interrogator Jeremy Paxman is even more entertaining. Black’s posture is better and his protestations are even more intense. Many of the statistics he rattles off about the U.S. justice system are rolled out in exactly the same fashion in both interviews – demonstrating that he has practiced his soundbites and prepared his talking points well in advance – just as we teach our clients. Perhaps prison time gives you plenty of opportunity to do that…but in any case, Black gives a bravura performance.
We take no position here on Baron Black’s guilt or innocence. But if you truly believe you are innocent, you can do no better than to defend yourself with vigor.