Second question first: a reporter’s responsibility is to the viewer. When something important happens, good or bad, the reporter’s job is to get the story, and that includes the perspective of the people involved. It is not to judge whether an interview is likely to go well or badly, but to give the athlete a chance to state his or her case. Kyle Petty once told me one of the key lessons he learned from father Richard was that when a driver’s day ends, for better or worse, the job of the press is just beginning, and it’s the driver’s job to give them what they need to tell the story. Your fans deserve it, your sponsors demand it, and if you like having the media around when times are good, you should be a stand-up guy when things don’t go well.
So how do you do it? Everyone is different, but broadly speaking you have to be able to frame your emotions and speak your piece without losing control. You may be blameless, you may be totally at fault, or somewhere in between. Stuff happens. It’s okay to be angry, and it’s just as okay to admit a mistake. The way you handle the situation should be a reflection of the person you want the viewers to feel you are. If you can’t control yourself, by all means ask not to be interviewed at that moment. But sooner or later, you must reveal to people who you are, or they will make up their own minds without your help. And always remember that you are the spokesman for a team supported by sponsors. It’s part of your job description to represent.