Monday, August 14, 2006

Pathetic lapdog journalism - Mike Wallace and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

On Sunday 60 minutes aired an "interview" between Mike Wallace and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. At one point in his career, Wallace was a pretty skilled interviewer. But this had all the elements of a Larry King special. I got to see it on C-Spann where it was rebroadcast without interruption. There were no tough questions. Wallace looked like a pathetic puppy. He kept an obsequious smile that was disconcerting. But more troubling was his complete unwillingness to follow up on anything. At one pointAhmadinejad laid down some baloney about Iran's belief in valuing all people. Wallace asked about the reality of the holocaust - the Iranian president has repeatedly suggested that it was made up - when the President commented that he needed more evidence - Wallace should have commented on the myriad documentation of those terrible events - but he did not. The whole interview was like that. Ahmadinejad commented that the US "owns" the UN and the Security Council, he repeatedly failed to confirm or deny his outrageous statements about Israel. Iran's nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful. Hezbollah is a peaceful people's movement. In each instance those comments were simply allowed to stand - or Wallace would come up with his silly smile and then let the President go on to another unresponded to soliloquy.

Were Wallace a journalist he would have asked the president some real questions - but in his school those questions are reserved only for people like George Bush. Wallace is likely to claim that part of his problem was the translation and part of it was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's almost book like responses - clearly Amadinejahd relished this role to give his pat answers. But that is nonsense. Wallace would have treated a different subject differently. CBS was so desparate for ratings that is sacrificed integrity. It is clear that he would have used the old approach that he made famous on 60 minutes. If Wallace's interview with Ahmadinejad is an example of journalism, then Ned Lamont lost the Connecticut primary last week.

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