Clay Aiken vs. ‘Newsweek’ Reporter: A Catfight?

Clay Aiken Angry
Photo: Getty Images

Every journalist who has to talk to celebrities at some point has to deal with attacks. A star will tire of the reporter's probing questions and will suddenly lash out. There are a few traditional means of doing this. First, and most common, is the "Why did you decide to do this for your job? There are hundreds of people dying in Iraq and you are asking me about my sex tape?" approach. Then, sometimes, there's the "I'm calling my publicist and none of her other clients will work with you if this is how you operate," tactic (otherwise known as "I'M TELLING MOM!"). And finally, there's the "I thought you were better than this!" routine, which celebrities always think will work, but never does, because, hello, we're reporters and you can't appeal to our sense of shame because we don’t have one. This last mode was the one taken by Clay Aiken when Newsweek sent cute boy reporter Ramin Setoodeh to interview him about debuting in Spamalot this week, and to ask him about the whole incident with Kelly Ripa last year. (You remember, when she snapped at Aiken for putting his hand over her mouth, by saying, "I don't know where that hand has been," and then Rosie went bananas about it on The View and called Ripa a homophobe?) The minute Setoodeh brought it up, things went very downhill very fast:

What about the Kelly Ripa thing?
I'm not going to discuss it.

Did you think it was homophobic?
I'm not going to discuss it.

What do you want to talk about?
I think we're done.

Can we talk about something fun?
No, we're done. I thought NEWSWEEK would be more reputable. I'm surprised.

But I think people are curious about it.
It was a year ago. This is NEWSWEEK. It's not the National Enquirer. I'd hate to have a job where I had to be rude to people.

We're just having a conversation.
Change the subject! I'd never take a job where I had to do something that I didn't want to do.

What about all those Ford commercials on "American Idol"?
That wasn't a job.

It was part of your job.
It wasn't a Ford commercial. It was a music video. It was a completely different thing.

I'll change the subject. What do you do for fun?
I watch the news. I read news magazines, but I'm reconsidering that now.

What's awesome is that these segments of interviews are normally edited out. But since this was from a Newsweek.com Web exclusive, they had the room to keep it in (the story is even titled "Achin' Aiken" because of the exchange). It all just serves to raise an important question for modern celebrity journalists: Can we call something a "catfight" without implying that its male participants are both gay?

Achin' Aiken [Newsweek]