Journalist Robert Millis produces and hosts a weekly political online program in which he interviews a combination of politicians, veterans, and other politically minded people. Millis is no stranger to politics; he credits his obsession with the subject to being born just in time for Nixon’s resignation. Ever since making his first independent film project, he has sought to combine his two major interests documentaries and interviews. Research and production assistant Ted Walter, an NYU Tisch School for the Arts grad, assists in the filming and directing. The first episode of American Microphone appropriately debuted on July 4, 2006, with installments posted semi-regularly thereafter, most of which deal with the War in Iraq.
Guests range from former combat medic Patrick Campbell to John Edelman of Stand for Children to Brian Conley from Alive in Baghdad. Episodes run as short as fifteen minutes, with some clocking in at over thirty. All are set against a black backdrop with the camera angle switching from Millis to interviewee, Charlie Rose-style. While the subject matter is often quite intriguing and the audio quality is excellent, the format does leave a little to be desired – perhaps some photos of the soldiers in action or clips of the politicians giving speeches would make the site more dynamic. At the end of the videos, Millis presents some relevant statistics, which can also be found in the Data Dump section of the blog, where posts are made every few days with news updates and polls. Viewers are also given the opportunity to discuss the episodes. Additionally, the site contains an e-store and links to guest bios and other important sites, like Millis’ MySpace page. While the more tongue-in-cheek political shows like Real Time and The Colbert Report are certainly more entertaining to watch, it is refreshing to see a serious take on political subjects with such a competent host.
I naturally gravitated toward the interview with singer-songwriter Catie Curtis, a socially conscious performer with an eye toward changing the world through music. Millis asks her a very pointed and important question about whether she feels that she is preaching to the choir, and her answer – that in red states, she feels more like she is nurturing the choir – is just as pointed. The pride of Millis’ career so far is his interview with former senator and Nebraska governor and 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey, who discusses Iraq and the white house’s inability to cooperate with the Commission.