Not long ago Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was considered a bellicose, fly off the handle, shoot from the hip and a border line crazy demagogue; well not anymore, certainly not after Mike Wallace’s recent “60 Minutes” interview.
It is ironic that one of Mahmoud’s comments directed at Mike Wallace was: “… I thought you had already retired …” May be he should have been, before the interview took place; and now I say, he must. It is time Mike for you to hang your shark teeth, they are biting into pap; whether by design or by happenstance they are not sharp anymore.
In today’s Op-Ed Boston Globe column, by Jeff Jacoby: “When Mike met Mahmoud”
, Jeff writes about the “60 Minutes” interview and draws more of his own conclusions.
" A pity, Wallace must think, that America's president isn't more like Iran's -- that ``rather attractive man," as he gushed about the world's leading Holocaust denier last week, ``very smart, savvy, self-assured, good looking in a strange way . . . infinitely more rational than I had expected him to be."
That is exactly how Mahmoud came across after his latest “softball” interview. A plastered smile on his face, exuding all the charm of the snake charmer he is, charismatic, smart and intellectual, well versed and in command of his replies, always ready to answer (whether to the questions asked or his own rhetoric, is unimportant), displaying fluidity and always gracious to his interviewer.
What else did we expect? I believe Mike Wallace must have viewed and replayed the tape of the interview to convince himself that Mahmoud is really that person he just interviewed, or why else would he summarize and caption his words in such effusive terms; market share? Hardly, he already knew how many millions will be watching the first American to interview this newly elected Iranian despot.
I asserted in several of my earlier articles and I stress it again now; main media interviewers truly believe that the interview is an “end in itself”. Beyond that, it’s only market share. In the process they drop their guard, and lob softballs, what does it matter it is a “lock” anyway; so let’s keep the door open to get more of such opportunities, to make … more money?
What a shame, and what a sad note to end one’s career on.Israel Bonan
When Mike met Mahmoud
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist | August 16, 2006
NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN flew to Munich to see Adolf Hitler, Walter Winchell observed in 1938, ``because you can't lick a man's boots over the phone." Why did Mike Wallace fly to Tehran?
Wallace's bio at the CBS website lauds his ``no-holds-barred interviewing technique," but there was no hint of it Sunday, when ``60 Minutes" aired his interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the virulent Iranian theocracy that is the world's most active sponsor of jihadist terror.
Time and again Wallace let Ahmadinejad brush him off with inanities and lies he would have pounced on had they been uttered by a business executive or an American politician. When Wallace asked why Iranian Revolutionary Guards are helping terrorists in Iraq kill US soldiers, Ahmadinejad's non-reply was that the Americans shouldn't be in Iraq, since it is ``a civilized nation with a long history of civilization." The ``60 Minutes" star's withering rejoinder, according to the transcript: ``Mm-hmm." Wallace didn't press for an answer to his question, so Ahmadinejad flung it back at him. ``According to international laws," he said, Iraqi security is the responsibility of ``the occupation" -- that is, the US military.
``Why are they not providing security?" The befuddled Wallace changed the subject.
And that, more or less, was the story of the interview. Wallace would pose a question, Ahmadinejad would swat it away with a preposterous retort, and Wallace would move on to something else.
Asked about the thousands of artillery rockets provided to Hezbollah by Iran, Ahmadinejad sneered: ``Are you the representative of the Zionist regime or a journalist?" Confronted with Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, he declared that President Bush and his supporters want to monopolize energy resources and ``line their own pockets."
You're a bigot who despises ``the Zionists," Wallace challenged him. Not at all, said the man who wants Israel ``wiped off the map," I merely despise ``heinous action."
For some reason, Wallace neglected to ask Ahmadinejad about Iran's brutal treatment of political dissidents. Or about the scores of anti-government demonstrations that have taken place across Iran. Or about the long trail of false reports Iran filed to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Or about allegations by former American diplomats that Ahmadinejad was a key player in the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran. Or about the ballistic missiles flaunted in Iranian military parades with banners reading ``Death to America" and ``We will trample America under our feet."
Perhaps Wallace simply ran out of time. Even a seasoned pro can't fit everything into one short interview, after all. Especially when he has to save room for exchanges like this:
Wallace: One of your aides just gave you a note. What is he telling you?
Ahmadinejad: Yes. They have told me to rearrange my jacket.
Wallace: They've been -- why are they worried about your jacket? I think you look just fine.
Ahmadinejad: That is right, they have told me the same thing, they tell me that it's a very nice-looking coat.
Wallace: Are you a vain man?
Ahmadinejad: Sometimes appearances, yes, you have to look your best.
Wallace: Let me reassure you --
Ahmadinejad: That is why I comb my hair.
Wallace: Let me assure you, you look your best. What do you do for leisure?
Ahmadinejad: I do many things, I have many hobbies.
Wallace: For instance?
Ahmadinejad: I study, I read books, I exercise. And, of course, I spend some time, quality time, with my family.
Wallace: You have three children?
Fawning over despots is something of an old habit with Wallace. His ``60 Minutes" whitewash of the late Syrian tyrant Hafez Assad in 1975 so pleased the Damascus regime that years later the Syrian embassy in Washington was still distributing transcripts of the program. In 1990, as the Soviet Union was coming unraveled, Wallace assured his viewers that many Soviets ``look back almost longingly to the era of brutal order under Stalin." Writing in Commentary the following year, David Bar-Illan described an obsequious Wallace interview with Yasser Arafat: ``Had he treated American . . . politicians this way, he would have been drummed out of the profession."
No danger of that. Wallace told the Boston Globe last December that if he could go one-on-one with Bush, he would ask him how someone so ``incurious" could be suited for the presidency and whether his election ``has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up." A pity, Wallace must think, that America's president isn't more like Iran's -- that ``rather attractive man," as he gushed about the world's leading Holocaust denier last week, ``very smart, savvy, self-assured, good looking in a strange way . . . infinitely more rational than I had expected him to be."
Introduction copyright by Israel Bonan, 2006. Original article © Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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