This morning CNN did something that news shows promise a lot, but don’t often deliver: an exclusive interview, involving a major news story, that revealed new and compelling information, that is now being picked up by other news outlets. But Jake Tapper‘s live interview with Dallas Police Chief David Brown on State of the Union also stood out for another reason: producers let the interview go long, 25 minutes in all. A rarity even for 24-hour cable news.
Chief Brown was front and center Thursday, Friday and Saturday during news conferences about the tragic events involving his department, but he hadn’t done any one-on-one TV interviews. So, how did CNN manage to get the interview? “I’m not going to reveal the secrets of our booking wizard Polson Kanneth,” Tapper told us. “I hope Chief Brown agreed to the interview because he thought State of the Union would provide a sober forum to discuss issues of great importance.”
In the interview Chief Brown revealed the killer, Micah Johnson wrote the letters RB in his own blood on the walls of the parking garage where he was killed, “which leads us to believe he was wounded on the way up the stairwell.” He detailed how Johnson was able to carry out the attacks: “The suspect continued to move and shoot from different angles, almost triangulating the officers with his rapid fire.” And what led to the plan to arm a robot with an explosive to take Johnson out: “He just basically lied to us, playing games, laughing at us, singing, asking how many did he get and that he wanted to kill some more and that there were bombs there so there was no progress on the negotiation.”
“Chief Brown was always booked as the first interview on the show,” Tapper said. “But given the early status of the investigation we didn’t know just what to expect in terms of how forthcoming he might be.”
Tapper also asked Brown about the personal tragedies he’s experienced, including the death of his son who was killed in a police-involved shooting in 2010. Brown deftly deflected Tapper’s question: “I am really not wanting any of this to be about me, Jake. I hope you can appreciate that.”
“He did have a lot to say, and we were all struck by how candid and forthright and authentic he was,” said Tapper of the 25-minute, 2-part interview. “Going long was compelling and we were able to provide our viewers with an interview that was extraordinary, entirely due to Chief Brown and what he had to say.”