Question how do you know someone is media trained?
I was mostly joking, but my assumptions are based on a few things:
(1) The knowledge that anyone – actor, singer, athlete, etc. – who speaks with the press with any regularity has had some media training. I’m sure it ranges in degree and intensity, but even good high school football players who only talk to the local press get some basic training on how to answer questions. I knew someone very tangentially who was a swimmer at the London Games, and some media training was part of their team requirements. It is regularly a part of any rookie training camp for major college or professional teams of all sports. Record labels send their artists to media training; film studios send their actors. Basically, if the person is expected to speak to the media at all, they get some training.
(2) That the answers to questions are polite and politic, never calling anyone out or blaming anyone. Avoiding questions they don’t want to answer. No matter how many times Gabby Douglas is asked about her feelings of not making the all-around, she’s going to say she’s just so excited to be sharing the experience with her teammates and how proud she is to represent the USA. She’s not going to tell you her real feelings. No matter how many times Michael Phelps is asked about Le Clos irritating him, he’s going to shift the conversation back to his preparation or excitement to still be competing or something like that.
(3) They sound rehearsed, which they are. They practice the types of questions they’re going to get, figuring out the best answers ahead of time. They may not know the exact question, but they know that the questions will likely come form a few types and they have stock answers ready to go. Compare (if you watched it) the way they giggled with each other when they were watching the medal ceremony to how they answered Bob Costas’ questions. They don’t even sound like the same people. Think of how many times Harry answered the questions about “Perfect” with some variation of how everyone can take different things away from a song. It was even pointed out that he gave almost the exact same word-for-word answer after being teased. And look at Cillian Murphy’s answer about working with Harry – on at least two occasions, he’s used almost the same words to talk about him. Even if he wasn’t trained to answer that specific question, he’s had training on how to answer that type of question and he sounds the same both times because he’s drawing on that training.
Media training isn’t an inherently bad thing. We lament how that training has changed the boys’ presented personalities, especially Louis, but basically it’s just meant to teach somehow how to respond to media questions without getting flustered or saying something that people will be offended by or that they’ll have to explain later. It depends on how it’s used and what kind of behavior the training is trying to change.