Nothing Barbara West has done in her 22 years at WFTV-TV has generated the attention of her interview last week with Sen. Joe Biden, Barack Obama's running mate.
The contentious chat has become an Internet sensation — in the ballpark of 2 million hits — and generated controversy about how journalists question their subjects.
“The thing that stuns me is that this has become about me,” said anchor West, 60.
In the Biden interview, West quoted Karl Marx and asked, “How is Sen. Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“Are you joking?” said Biden.
“No,” West said.
West later asked Biden about his comments that Obama could be tested early on as president. She wondered if the Delaware senator was saying America's days as the world's leading power were over.
“I don't know who's writing your questions,” Biden shot back.
“I was trying to get to the heart of things, not lob softballs,” West said. “We are a hard-breaking news station. Our job is to challenge people and ask probing questions.”
Jill Geisler, who teaches ethics and management at the Poynter Institute journalism school, said West has a right to ask any question she wants.
Geisler said she found some of West's language hyperbolic.
West received 10,000 e-mails about the Biden interview — she estimated they were 90 percent positive.