Susan Delacourt, Ottawa bureau chief of the Toronto Star, uses her discerning eye to deconstruct the TV performance of Guy Goma, the guy who went to the BBC for a job interview and found himself an on-air pundit.
Goma, hearing himself introduced as Kewney, goes through three distinct facial expressions. The first, almost mischievously smug, is: “Oh my God, I can't believe how badly you are screwing up!” The second is the horrified realization: “Oh my God, but I'm the one who's going to look like the idiot here.” And the third is amused resignation: “Ah, what the hell.”
Presented with this interpretation of those precious screen seconds, one Ottawa wit quipped, “You've just summed up Prime Minister Paul Martin's last five or six years in politics.”
What's amazing about the wrong-Guy screw-up, really, is how well Goma settles into his accidental punditry.
This is also what makes it such compelling viewing in Ottawa, where politicians pay media trainers big bucks to learn how to appear authoritative on TV. Goma, who also reportedly made a stop at the makeup room on his confused route to the live studio, seems to recognize immediately that it's not what you say, but how you look saying it. …
The BBC interviewer, Karen Bowerman, gets down to business immediately and asks Goma if he's surprised by the verdict in the legal battle between Apple Computer and the Beatles' Apple Corp.
Goma bats it right back at her with an out-of-the-park punditry trick: If you don't know the answer to a question, take a key word — in this case, “surprise” — and keep that idea in the air. Just keep talking, no matter what. So he replies, in his heavy French accent:
“I am very surprised to see this verdict to come on me because I was not expecting that. When I came they told me something else and I am coming, and (got) an interview. So, a big surprise anyway.”
Bowerman, like a good host, reinforces: “A big surprise, yeah, yes.”
Goma, clearly warming up to his instant-expert character, rewards her with another golden technique from the punditry handbook: the one-word, authoritative declaration. “Exactly!”
As an aside, a popular U.S. political talk show in the late 1980s was PBS's The McLaughlin group.
I will never forget an interview I read about Fred Barnes, a regular on the show. He said, and I quote: “I can sound authoritative about anything.” :)
I still haven't heard if Goma got the job as a data cleansing specialist. If the Beeb were good sports, they really should hire the guy.