Just say “yes” or just say “no”
This was a simple “yes” or “no” question, which Mr Pence did not respond to with either “yes” or “no”. His elaborations might have been appropriate once he had responded “yes” or “no” to the question; however, in the context of the interview, those elaborations became meaningless stutter, as they did not serve as an answer to the question.
The closest to an answer, at the end, about appropriate paperwork having been done, also does not answer the question.
While I applaud the perseverance of Mr Tapper, I have seen this same situation repeated again and again in interviews with people in the Trump camp, no matter who the journalist is asking the questions. One can clearly see the frustration in the journalists’ demeanor when a simple question is avoided as if it had not been asked. And this avoidance means that the viewer never gets a straight answer. And there always seems to be some kind of disparaging comment about “the media” involved in those elusive non-answers.
Journalists are recognized personalities whose labor includes asking the questions that the viewer might or would like to have answered. I am a viewer. Had I asked Mr Pence that question twice and received the same avoidance in responding, I certainly would have stopped him at the third time, saying clearly:
“Excuse me, Mr Pence, perhaps you didn’t understand my question. It is a question that requires a simple, one-word answer, either yes or no. Was a petition for security clearance for Mr Flynn Jr requested? Yes, or no?”
On not having received that answer, I would continue with:
“As you are obviously not prepared to answer a simple yes/no question, I have my doubts that you are able to respond to my more complex questions, so I thank you for your time, this interview has come to an end.”
Journalists need to stop allowing this steamroller type of non-answer through both being clear and concise with their questions and insisting upon clear and concise answers. Mr Pence is obviously not an ignorant man, his avoidance included discomfort while avoiding response. Simplify the questions for these people and insist on clear answers. Stop these people when they go off track (“Sorry Kellyanne, we are not talking about Bill Clinton, we are talking about Donald Trump. Please refrain from talking about Bill Clinton and please listen carefully to the question. If your only answer is to talk about Bill Clinton, then I must assume you are either trying to avoid answering clearly or you are unable to understand my question. In either case, if you don’t answer my question, this interview has come to an end. Thank you for your time.”) and insist that they answer.
“You are not answering my question. How about this one? Do you intend to give me an answer? Can you explain why not?”
Finally, to dismiss this question about Mr Flynn Jr. as some kind of distraction from the real issue with a not-so-oblique attack on “the media” is to dismiss the concerns of the viewer. I certainly do want to know who is involved in this transition team, and it would be of special interest to me to know if this person with the proven behavior has been on a short list for clearance to access information that I would not have access to, not having such clearance.
We are not talking about who is serving me my coffee in the corner diner. We are talking about a group of people who will have a certain power of decision that will have impact on my life. I want to know everything I can about them to be prepared.