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"Edited for Clarity"

Reported by Melanie - March 25, 2005

On March 9, 2005, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was a guest on Your World w/Neil Cavuto. Ostensibly, O'Neill was on the show to talk about his ideas for reforming Social Security. The interview was remarkable because Neil Cavuto, the host of the show, interrupted O'Neill 24 times during the course of the three or four minute interview. Cavuto's repeated interruptions became the focus of the interview, and a flustered O'Neill was barely able to complete a sentence or communicate a thought.

Last night I happened across a "transcript" of the interview on Fox's website. I thought I'd take a look; I was curious to see how Fox transcribed it. Fox's "transcript" shows that Cavuto interrupted O'Neill eight times and the interview sounds much more coherent than it actually was.

Comment: A disclaimer on Fox's site indicates that the transcript was "edited for clarity." Why does Fox edit its "transcripts?" What good is a "transcript" if it's been edited? Why even call it a "transcript" if it's been edited? In this case, the editing completely changed the flavor and tone of the interview. Cavuto's repeated interruptions were rude and disrespectful. They communicated a clear disdain for O'Neill, and they made the interview so choppy that it was almost incoherent.

While Neil Cavuto doesn't yell and scream like Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity, he has equally effective ways of silencing guests, and communicating disdain for those who challenge the Bush administration. An accurate transcript would show that, which, come to think of it, is a good reason to "edit" transcripts "for clarity."

By the way, the Treasury Department's website still says Paul O'Neill is the Secretary of the Treasury, two years after he was fired.

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