If you have problems with facing an interviewer known to be a little 'in your face', you have every right to decline such an interview.
But once you do decide to go on such a show, you have to provide sensible answers to questions. Especially questions you can fully well anticipate.
What you cannot and should not do is what Rahul Bajaj did tonight on CNN IBN's 'Devil's Advocate'. Get loud, aggressive and even more obnoxious than the perceived obnoxiousness of the interviewer. As the transcript is not up yet, I am paraphrasing what I heard:
Karan Thapar: Sometime ago you said to CNBC, in reply to a question on whether you would enter politics,"Mujhe pagal kutte ne kaata hai kya?" Yet you are in politics today.
Apparently not. Mr Bajaj, newly elected Rajya Sabha MP believes he is not a 'politician'. And went to great pains to clarify this in a rather high decibel manner. A clarification which extended to mentioning things like, "Karan, I don't know which school you went to... you are being illogical.
Karan Thapar, rather stoic till then, could not resist rattling off the names of all the institutions he's attended (Doon, Oxford, Cambridge). To which Rahul Bajaj rattles off all the schools he's attended (something, something, Harvard) and proceeds to conclude he's been at 'better' ones.
It was pathetic. I mean, sure the 'paagal kutte ne kaata' kya question was a bit harsh - most TV interviewers fawn over their guests - but Rahul Bajaj could have calmly said,"I changed my mind... my country needs me". Etc etc etc.
He could have maintained his dignity.
When asked why he took support of the BJP and Shiv Sena despite his family's decades old ties with the Congress party, Mr Bajaj had no straight forward answer. More heated words, more obfuscation. And Mr Bajaj still believes he is no politician!
I could not bear to watch anymore but I must say, if Mr Bajaj can't take a little bit of needling from a harmless TV interviewer I don't see how he will make himself heard in a coherent manner in Parliament.
Speaking of interviews, here's an interesting Q & A with Karan Thapar on how he got into journalism and some of the 'scraps' he's been in so far.
A Karan quote, summing up his stand: When tackling politicians who are to be made accountable you have to persist to the point when you get an answer. If you don't - find out why the answer is not forthcoming...
In response, some people choose to cry on the show, while others shout to make the point that they can be 'just as rude'. But the camera never lies. Viewers can decide for themselves... and after today's interview Mr Bajaj has fallen in the eyes of at least one viewer!
Karan Thapar pic: courtesy Telelife magazine
Update: Here is the transcript of the interview