Asked on live television about his history of violence, Chris Brown reportedly flew into a violent rage at Good Morning America today. Everyone agrees Chris was foolish not to expect that line of questioning—not least of all because GMA pre-approved it with Brown's handlers, according to TMZ and The View.
Is that ethical?
GMA interviewer Robin Roberts was right to ask Chris Brown about battering Rihanna—not because he agreed to it, but because it's relevant. If someone go on a major news show in the wake of a serious crime to promote an album that is all about the fallout from said crime (Chris' new album even has the word "forgive" in its title) then, yes, that crime will be a topic of conversation. An admitted criminal is set to earn millions singing for his redemption. If a journalist can't ask about the elephant in the room, then who the hell can?
News shows routinely ask subjects what they will or won't talk about in advance—in theory, this is so they don't waste precious air time on a series of "no comment" non-responses. In practice, publicists manipulate the system. On The View, Elisabeth Hasselbeck said Brown refused to come on their show because producers refused to take discussion of Rihanna off the table. How many refusals did it take before Chris' handlers walked back their demands? And who would have agreed to interview Brown if they hadn't?
This query is mostly hypothetical (neither GMA nor The View agreed to pull punches) but the whole conundrum is easily avoidable: Don't pre-approve difficult questions. Just ask them. If Chris Brown can't handle them, then he doesn't have to go on news shows. He doesn't need to have a public career, at all.
GMA did not respond to our request for comment. We'll update this post if they do.