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Mike Wallace Failed to Expose the Real Ahmadinejad

Bernard Goldberg has a piece in Opinion Journal in which he examines Mike Wallace's interview with Ahmadinejad. He concludes that Mike Wallace missed an opportunity to do an accurate profile on the real Ahmadinejad, but instead, allowed the Iranian president, who is very media savvy unlike previous Iranian leaders, to get his message, obviously steeped in American liberalism, to the American people:

In fact you got the impression that Mr. Ahmadinejad, unlike the ayatollah, was talking right past Mike and straight to the American people. He had a message to deliver, and he was going to deliver it no matter what Mike wanted to talk about. So the president of Iran told us what a shame it was that 1% of the American people are in prison. And how unfortunate it was that 45 million Americans don't have health-care insurance. "That," he said, "is very sad to hear." You just know that every liberal tuned in to "60 Minutes" was nodding in agreement. "He's not such a bad guy, after all," they were probably thinking. "So much more reasonable--and intelligent--than Bush."

In fact, instead of seeming like a modern Hitler (a not unreasonable comparison, given that one wanted to exterminate all the Jews while the other wants to wipe Israel off the map), Mr. Ahmadinejad came across as, well, a fairly typical, run-of-the-mill liberal. I listened carefully as he laid out his position on the war in Lebanon and on the Bush policy in Iraq, and I could not detect any significant difference between his views and those held by a lot of blue-state liberals, especially the liberal intellectuals on our college campuses. "Killing innocents is reprehensible," he told Mike Wallace. "Why are Americans killing Iraqis?" he asked. Hey, I just heard the same thing on Air America.

Bernard Goldberg also points out what was missing from Wallace's interview with the Iranian leader:

They should have found some people who know the real Mahmoud Ahmadinejad--not the made-for-television, Mr. Rogers version. They should have found some people to fill in the blanks; people who could paint an alternative picture of this man. They should have rounded up a few Iranians living in exile--the ones who must have been throwing shoes at their television sets during the interview--and asked them what really makes him tick.

But there were no exiles in the piece. No Israelis, either. Nor were there any historians, people who would have been able to say that Mr. Ahmadinejad is not the first leader of an undemocratic country to speak in platitudes about how much he longs for peace, justice and fairness. Read "Berlin Diary," by William L. Shirer, who along with Ed Murrow covered World War II for CBS News, and you'll learn that Hitler spoke the same way.

Wallace offered us only a puff piece. It was an opportunity for Ahmadinejad to portray himself as a reasonable man, not the lunatic he really is: a man who wants to bring about world catastrophe so as to usher in the return of the 12th Imam. So, like Nic Roberton of CNN, Mike Wallace was used as a propaganda tool.

Update: Allah at Hot Air has some video of Mike Wallace and Ahmadinejad "acting like an old married couple."

Update II: Dennis Prager takes a look at Mike Wallace's interview with Ahamdinejad and comes to the conclusion that, after having sent Dan Rather to Iraq to interview Saddam Hussein and now Mike Wallace to Iran, CBS should be renamed the Communication for Barbarians Service.

Comments (12)

And this surprises you beca... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

And this surprises you because...?

Mike Wallace has never been anything more than a propagandist for the forces of evil in this world. I would have been not only surprised, but totally shocked had Sixty Minutes of Secular-Socialist Progaganda done any one of the things suggested in the Goldberg quote above.

88 years old. That says a l... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

88 years old. That says a lot right there.

I saw the interview and also wanted to throw my shoes at the TV. I wouldn't say it was a "puff piece" so much as it was lackluster and lacked any real punch. Wallace certainly should've cornered Mammoud Ahwhackjob when he didn't answer on why he thinks Israel should be "wiped off the map" or how he can explain that the Holocaust is a "fairytale" or how Iranian arms have found their way into the Hezbollah-Israeli battle.

Not to be ageist, but one does tend to lose their edge and a willingness to confront at a certain point. Wallace was certainly not the right man to do the interview.

My only consolation is this:

Can you imagine if Katie Couric had conducted the interview? I'm sure we would have seen Ahwhackjob frolicking with his family at a backyard barbeque goat roasting, playing canasta and asking pointed questions like "What does family mean to you?"


Dan Rather interview with S... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

Dan Rather interview with Saddam and now Mike Wallace interview with Ahmadinejad. CBS's new reality series 'Whoring for Despots' may be their last chance for higher ratings.

How sad 1% of the US popula... (Below threshold)

How sad 1% of the US population is in prison?

And Wallace didn't respond with how sad it was that homosexuals are put to death in Iran? He had to have known about that... maybe he didn't care? As a journalist he should have actually known those young men by name.

Dinnerjacket must be thinki... (Below threshold)

Dinnerjacket must be thinking "This is just too easy!"

Have you read GOLDBURGS boo... (Below threshold)
krazy kagu:

Have you read GOLDBURGS book ARROGANCE? its realy got some great thing about the liberal left-wing news media

Wallace is supposed to be r... (Below threshold)

Wallace is supposed to be retiring from CBS. Let's hope this was his last piece.

So Wallace is 88 and Maddie... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

So Wallace is 88 and Maddie Albright is 125. It must be hard to replace dumb assholes in the press core.

Can you imagine if Katie... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Can you imagine if Katie Couric had conducted the interview? I'm sure we would have seen Ahwhackjob frolicking with his family at a backyard barbeque goat roasting, playing canasta and asking pointed questions like "What does family mean to you?"

I would prefer Baba Wawa:

BW: If you were a tree, what kind of a tree would you be?

DinnerJacket: One with a sturdy branch, in order to hang a couple of homosexuals on it.
(reference: http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Execution_of_two_gay_teens_in_Iran_spurs_controversy:

If we only see this Iranian... (Below threshold)

If we only see this Iranian leader as a "lunatic", we miss the real danger of the Middle East situation. Mike Wallace was able to give wide exposure in the US to the Iranian President's other persona, one that has already gotten a lot of face-time in Europe and the Middle East.

Lot's of leaders down through history have been described as "lunatics", such as Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, etc. Calling them names may blind us to the depth of their capacity for harm.

Hopefully, with this interview as some help, Americans will develop a better sense of the sophisticated dissembling and media-savvy nature of this current Iranian leader, that maybe we will not underestimate the challenges ahead as we confront Tehran.

"What the dickens does this... (Below threshold)

"What the dickens does this have to do with your statement over and over, 'Israel must be wiped off the map'? You are very good at filibustering. You still have not answered the question."

"You are perfectly capable of answering the question. If you have the... courage to answer."

How aggressive does a questioner have to be for you to be satisfied? If a journalist took this attitude with President Bush, you'd be mad at him.

I caught bits and pieces of... (Below threshold)

I caught bits and pieces of the interview.

I can't see trashing Wallace. He's no virtuoso, but he did manage to force the fiend to dodge direct questions repeatedly and show his cowardice that is considered by some guile.

He's been exposed before, now to a large audience. What matters more is how media and the people react.






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