When Colonel Sanders interviewed the interviewer (1892)

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An interviewer dazed

Most of the newspaper correspondents in Washington are of the opinion that Senator Sanders of Montana is an original somebody. One of the new men is deeply impressed with the Montana man’s originality. It seems that the recent arrival was desirous of interviewing the Senator, and, meeting him at the Capitol, notified him that he expected a talk on the irrigation of arid lands. Now, Col. Sanders is a very pleasant man to know when you know him, but it happened that the correspondent and he had never met before.

“So you want to interview me?” said the Senator.

The would-be interviewer nodded. “Would you have any objection to letting me know who you are?” queried the Colonel.

“Here is my card.”

“Thank you, but even that doesn’t give me the information I am looking for. Where were you born? Who was your father and who was your mother? Did either of them ever do anything calculated to earn the applause of men? Did you receive all the benefits which are supposed to spring from a common school education, or was knowledge pumped into you from academic and collegiate sources? Are you bright mentally, and do you know how to transfer your impressions to paper? Have you accomplished anything that would fairly entitle you to a reasonable amount of renown?”

The interviewer was dazed.

“I ask you these things,” continued the Colonel, “because I am very much in earnest. Why should I be interviewed by a man of whose ability, or lack of ability, I know nothing? I might talk to you most entertainingly; might conversationally outshine historic chatterers and promulgate ideas on which fortunes and nations might be upreared; but all would avail me nothing if you were — excuse the term — a chump; I should appear like a fool. But if you are brainy and keen-witted and able to write, it wouldn’t make much difference what I said. I could be dull and prosy as Senator — no, I won’t mention his name — and you would be able so to sketch my conversation that the world would admire and say, ‘What a statesman!’

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“It doesn’t make much difference what the man who is being interviewed says; the main point is the interviewer. That’s why I insist on knowing a newspaper man before I talk to him for publication.”

– Richmond Times

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