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Liz Benjamin Rules!

April 21, 2010

She lacks the affected intonation of all the young j-school grads. She talks fast. She interrupts. She doesn’t believe in segues in interviews and doesn’t stick to the script. But she’s great!

She is Liz Benjamin, a long time newspaper reporter who is making the transition to broadcast journalism as host of a statewide cable TV program, Capitol Tonight.

The extraordinary thing about Ms Benjamin is that she actually challenges the people she is interviewing. It’s a lost art. TV “journalism” is usually just an opportunity for pols to spout their talking points.  

Not so with Liz. We caught her show last night and got a real kick out of her irreverence.  

She goaded the show’s usually tame Democrat and Republican analysts into disagreement: “Guys, let’s not wallow in wonk-dom.”

She called out the famously partisan Sen. Marty Golden, who was complaining that the Democrats had shamed the Senate: “Oh, come on Senator, do you really think the Democrats have cornered the market on corruption? What about Joe Bruno?”

She teased the great Chuck Schumer about his crusade against airline bag charges and the fact that there’s a sandwich named after him (the Schume-wich.)

And, in the middle of an interview with an official from the Working Families Party, she blurted out: “Aren’t you guys under investigation?”

With each of these four interviews, there were actual moments of candor. Yes, the candor comes with some awkwardness, but, man, is it refreshing.

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