How CBS interviewed Iran's president
Sunday, September 23, 2007 by Dave Winer.
I watched the 60 Minutes interview of Iranian president Ahmandinejad with amazement. At the end of the interview he reminded the interviewer, Scott Pelley, that he was the president of a sovereign country. He wondered if the interviewer was an agent of the American government. Amazingly his question made sense. I wondered too.
I tried to imagine CBS interviewing the President of the United States this way. I couldn't imagine that our President would sit for the full interview as the interviewer reminded him repeatedly that he hadn't directly answered the question as to whether Iran was producing a nuclear weapon or whether Iran was supplying arms to people fighting the US in Iraq. Ask once or twice, accept an incomplete even evasive answer, because that's how they interview politicians on American television. To hold Iran's president to a higher standard is hypocritical.
I wouldn't have blamed Ahmadinejad if he had asked why Iranian weapons are any worse than US weapons. Wouldn't he have the right to object that the US had troops in Iraq, a country that borders his, with people who share his culture, religion, even his sect, but he didn't. There's no question that American soldiers are killing Shi'ites in Iraq, and perhaps there's no question that Iran is arming our enemies in Iraq, but so what? I don't see how what we're doing is any better, and when you consider that Iraq borders Iran, it's as if a foreign country were occupying Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. His interest in peace in Iraq is clearly greater than ours.
He was much less adversarial than the interviewer, who was supposed to be disinterested. The president of a sovereign country, even one our country isn't friendly with, has no obligation to be disinterested.
The moment of greatest shame was when he asked Ahmadinejad if he admired anything about President Bush personally. I don't understand where the question came from, and why it wasn't edited out of the interview when Ahmadinejad declined (gracefully, I thought) to answer it. Is this somehow relevant to the conversation between our countries? Is this how a strong and respectful country learns about an adversary?