Gotcha Journalism

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Gotcha journalism is a term used to describe methods of interviewing which are designed to entrap interviewees into making statements which are damaging or discreditable to their cause, character, integrity, or reputation. The aim is to make film or sound recordings of the interview which can be selectively edited, compiled, and broadcast or published to show the subject in an unfavourable light.

Methods include misrepresenting the topic of the interview, then switching to an embarrassing subject, leading the interviewee to commit to a certain answer, and confronting them with prepared material designed to contradict or discredit that position, repeatedly baiting the interviewee to befuddle them and get their guard down to elicit an embarrassing response. Another technique is for the interviewer to remain silent after something the subject has said, which often leads the subject to say something to fill the silence. Gotcha journalism is often designed to keep the interviewee on the defensive by, for example, being required to explain some of their own statements taken out of context thus effectively preventing the interviewee from discussing their own agenda for the interview.

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