Republican Senate candidate Carlos Beruff’s interview with award-winning investigative journalist Alan Kohn last week on Sarasota’s ABC 7 was intended to be a fluff piece to advance Beruff’s reputation as a “Trump-esque” outsider who defies conventional political norms. Instead, what viewers saw is a candidate who sorely lacks Donald Trump’s ability to get voters to like him even though he’s rich and arrogant.
Kohn’s interview of Beruff isn’t even tough compared to, say, a 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace interview confronting the CEO of a company that sold defective child safety seats, but it gives off that same vibe: the shady culprit laughing nervously, shifting in his seat, fidgeting, while the intrepid journalist, sitting tall, takes him to task on issue after issue. The only difference is that Beruff never rips off his microphone, and Kohn never gets to chase him down the street, shouting questions.
But perhaps that’s exactly what Beruff should have done, instead of popping off cringe-inducing wisecracks and laughing uncomfortably at his own responses to tough questions.
Bad interviews happen, and usually involve a single awkward moment that forces the campaign’s communications team to tidy up the mess. But in this case, it wasn’t just Carlos Beruff’s ill-timed and odd-sounding chuckles, there were real political punches landing, including a smackdown when Beruff pretended he didn’t know that the flight he’d boarded to Cuba was organized by a group who supported normalizing relations with the communist nation. Beruff appeared unprepared for the topic, attempting to deflect the repeated zingers from Kohn by describing the trip the same way college guys describe a road trip to Vegas.
The whole interview is painful to watch, but if you want to get a sense of it within the opening minute, behold the friendly opener from Kohn about Beruff getting a 103 mph speeding ticket:
Beruff (shrugging, laughing): Eh…yeah, well, what are you gonna do? You’re in a hurry.
Kohn: I know that, but you know, some people might be watching and say, ‘geez, that’s a little reckless.’
Beruff: Not really. It was…it wasn’t raining.
His attitude here is all wrong, as if he’s trying to come off as Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious. Instead, he comes off as an out-of-touch goober who doesn’t care if he endangers you or your family on the highway as long as he makes it to his next campaign event.
Here’s the entire, awful interview (through no fault of Alan Kohn): ABC7 Beruff interview.