George Stephanopoulos’s Worst Interview

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At a moment when everyone is contemplating the mental acuity of President Biden, it is worth pausing to consider the cognitive lapse of a mainstream American broadcaster who just happened to be the last person to interview the president.

Approached by a stranger on the streets of Manhattan, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos casually muttered nine words that at once jeopardized his journalistic credibility, and illustrated an astonishing naivety of the social media universe in which we all live:

“I don’t think he can serve four more years.”

Stephanopoulos quickly issued an apology for his reckless remarks, and ABC News got to work distancing themselves. But like a hiker who steps into a jagged crevice, rescue efforts won’t reverse the broken ankle.

In an era when cable news pundits are often misidentified as journalists, Stephanopoulos represents a vanishing breed of reporters whose stock in trade is true objectivity (Stephanopoulos received bipartisan accolades for pulling no punches during his interview with the president). His lapse in judgment, for one moment in time, will undo much of what he has worked to achieve.

And for the rest of us, the message is very simple: every mic is hot, every cellphone camera is rolling, and everyone is a reporter.

Mark Bernheimer

Mark Bernheimer is a former CNN correspondent and the founder of MediaWorks Resource Group, an internationally renowned media training and consulting firm.