Answering without answering: Shifting as an evasive rhetorical strategy

Jonas Gabrielsen*, Heidi Jønch-Clausen, Christina Pontoppidan

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In the context of political press conferences, the authors explore a particular category of subtle evasions they term shifting. When shifting, the interviewee seemingly accepts to answer the journalist’s question. However, in providing the answer, the interviewee refocuses the question replacing its critical aspect with a more favorable one. Guided by classical rhetoric, the authors unfold the underlying logic of a shift. Analyzing 14 press conferences held by the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, they identify three subcategories of shifting: shift in time, shift of agent, and shift of level. Ideally, knowledge of the different shifting strategies can enable journalists to detect a shift and promptly react when interviewees shift the focus of a question.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1355-1370
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • critical journalism
  • evasion
  • focus
  • interview
  • rhetoric
  • the topics
  • Journalism Education
  • Journalism

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