Ideological Incompatibility in the Hybrid Political Interview

By: Damian Rivers  

During the National Policy Institute’s (NPI) 2016 annual conference, Director Richard Spencer gave a speech in praise of the election victory of President Donald Trump. Spencer concluded his address proclaiming, “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail Victory!” after which several audience members were recorded performing Nazi salutes. After the conference speech, Spencer was an invited guest on the NewsOne Now programme where he participated in a 32-minute televised interview with black journalist, host and managing editor of the programme Roland Martin. Since being uploaded to Martin’s YouTube channel, the Martin/Spencer interview has been viewed over 499,000 times and has attracted over 12,600 comments (as of January 2019). Using the Martin/Spencer interview as a case study, this poster draws from Ekman’s (2004) taxonomy of non-verbal behaviour to examine the contribution of non-verbal performance to the Hybrid Political Interview (HPI) (Hutchby, 2011, 2017). The analysis focuses upon three specific action-opposition sequences in which Martin and Spencer cycle back-and-forth between interview and argument conventions. Within these sequences the presenter identifies the primary linguistic features of the HPI inclusive of skeptical rejoinders, (polar) contrastives, insults and personalization markers, in addition to the use of leading questions, repetition, demeanor differentiations and instances of non-resolution. The presenter then demonstrates how non-verbal performance provides an additional layer of analysis and understanding as part of an integrated approach alongside the linguistic features of the HPI, especially when viewing the interview as a social performance intended to influence audience opinion.

Argumentation, Hybrid Political Interview, Non-Verbal Performance, Political Discourse
2019 Special Focus: The Future of Democracy in the Digital Age
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Damian Rivers

Professor, Future University Hakodate, Japan