UPDATED: When the moral equivalent of the KKK goes mainstream and a tinpot, tinfoil hatted dictator take over two major news networks’ coverage, you know the inmates are indeed running the asylum.
Yesterday morning NBC Today’s co-anchor Ann Curry replayed her “what I did on the 10th anniversary of 9/11” story. She spent Sunday fawningly covering “a day-in-the-life” of Iran’s brutal dictator. She even boarded a 50-year-old Boeing 707 jet to fly across Iran, something, I’m not sure any other member of the press corps would do.
Indeed the very long Ahmadinejad story was second only to 9/11 remembrances and her fawning was to hopefully bring her an “extended interview” with the leader scheduled for Monday and broadcast today. It was, frankly, a simpering pile of feces and disgusting to watch as Ms. Curry bowed and pleaded with the “President” who will again shortly come on a state visit to the UN to insult the US and Israel next month.
While that news was bad enough to watch, the night cap political “Rumble in Tampa” debate featured GOP politicians pandering on live television to racism’s gone mainstream Tea Party Patriots. This was given global broadcast credibility by CNN’s main host Wolf Blitzer.
If you were repulsed last week when the crowd applauded Texas Governor Rick Perry’s execution record, you would have hoped for no obstacles in the way on the race to the loo for the audience at this event applauding the suggestion a 30-year old man without health insurance should be left to die.
Governor Perry hates the federal government, cut fire budgets by 75% and then when his state burned in the midst of horrific wild fires, demanded federal help to put the fires out.
The serial hypocrisy and racism on that stage was red meat for the right wing nut job base. But it is completely unelectable in a general election. The further to the right this field goes to secure the base, the more they alienate the independent voters in the middle.
You got the interview and access, now when are you going to do your job and ask tough questions? Where were the questions Ms. Curry on the American hikers held in a maximum security as spies in an Iranian jail for 2-8 years because they strayed off course?
Where were the questions about the humanitarian crisis of 3,400 men women and children at risk and under attack by the Ahmadinejad government in Iraq’s refugee Camp Ashraf?
How about you ask him about the violent suppression of uprisings? What about the detaining, torture and killing of opposition family members who were not even protesting? How about asking the president about his public ‘support’ for the Egyptian Revolution but brutal suppression of speech and assembly in his own country?
OK, one more, when will his country become a member of the community of nations, renounce nuclear ambitions, allow Israel to exist and, and, and…
Because mainstream reporting today is all about access, living up to the questioner’s rules (see Christine O’Donnell storming off of Piers Morgan’s set for asking real questions and trying to gin up a fake controversy to sell books) or the interview ends.
It’s not a free and independent press when people are allowed to spew rubbish unchallenged.
Which brings us to the Tea Party debacle. Wolf, why would you sacrifice 20 years of journalistic integrity on the GOP/Tea Party altar? The FCC did away with the ‘equal time standard’ last month. When are you (and all political coverage networks) going to challenge all party talking points with tough questions? Must we re-litigate the civil rights movement of the 60s?
It’s not “Dancing with the Stars” but these dancing bears shape shifting their way through each constituent debate need to be called out as the charlatans they are. They seek the highest office in the land and no wonder men and women of good character abhor and shun politics. If you are decent and behave that way, you get 1% of the vote in this Entertainment Tonight, TMZ political world. If you can’t fit your campaign message into an 8-second sound bite don’t even bother?
We get the government we deserve because we fall for the continuing insult to our intelligence also known as the :30 campaign advert.
UPDATE: Iranian President says US hikers will be freed in a couple of days misdirects attention and brings NBC along for the ride.
UPDATE 2: NBC reacted with surprise at being ‘played’ by Ahmadinejad. The Iranian judiciary said it was not his call to make, and NBC again raised and dashed the hopes of the family but… they got the interview.
(Where does he get insurance for $200-$300 a month? The audience response and Paul passing it off to the church is chilling! -Ed.)
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
Email this author | All posts by Denis G Campbell