Monday, May 17, 2004
By now, you've all seen or heard about Sec. Powell's appearance on 'Meet the Press' this past Sunday. If you didn't, here is the lowdown:
- Powell was on a satellite linkup from Jordan, not in studio.
- His assistant, Emily Miller, was running the camera
- As Russert began to ask his last question, Miller panned the camera away from Powell
- Powell said, "He's still asking me questions." Miller replied, "No, he's not."
- Powell demanded to be put back on camera, told Miller to "get out of the way" and apologized to Russert for the problem. He then answered the final question.
Now, this doesn't sound like such a big deal, does it? Except for one problem: the question Russert was about to ask dealt with the White House Counsel memo regarding the questioning of prisoners and calling into question provisions in the Geneva Convention.
As a result, the media is claiming that Ms. Miller didn't want Powell answering the question, or some other equally sinister plan was afoot.
I'll admit, when I first saw it I was upset. But read the transcript and, amazingly, the NYT story on this issue. The Times story in particular because it simultaneously tries to make a big deal about it and gives the quotes that prove it isn't.
Russert made somewhat of a stink about this, but that is to be expected. Journalists are very sensitive about interviews and, to be honest, it looked bad. He said (in the NYT):
"I've been doing this program for 13 years and nothing like that has ever happened. I remember sometimes in countries around the world this happens, but not in America. This is a free press, and political figures can always say `I don't want to answer.' " He said he did not know if it was the content of the question that caused Ms. Miller's reaction or simply that the interview had gone over its allotted time.
Now, it couldn't have been the question's content b/c the camera panned away before Russert got to the meat of the question. Most likely, there was a schedule, and Ms. Miller decided on her own to enforce that schedule. So before the last question got asked, she began shutting the feed down. Powell immediately corrected her, and hopefully tore her a new one once they were off the air.
This is much ado about nothing...however, it isn't surprising. This administration has had an adversarial relationship with the press for a while. It also doesn't like to give out a lot of information. And that's fine; they can run the day-to-day workings of the White House as they see fit. But you have to accept the consequences of those decisions. The media is cutting GWB zero slack, so of course this is going to make the news, esp. with the last question being what it was.
The lesson here is simple: deputy press secretaries should stay away from the f***ing cameras until their boss tells them otherwise. The consequences are obvious.
Sarin gas...wait, that's a WMD!!
So today in Iraq, besides the head of the IGC getting toasted, coalition forces found an artillery shell on the side of the road wired as an impromptu explosive device. Inside the shell was...sarin gas.
Really? How did that get there? There isn't supposed to be ANY WMD in Iraq at all.
Now, one shell does not a weapons program make. But it is also ridiculous to assume that only one shell exists. Where did it come from? Is there a hidden cache in Iraq? Or does this lend more credence to the belief that Hussein gave away or shipped out most of his chemical and bio weapons before the invasion last year, and now some of it is being smuggled back in? Who knows, but don't think this will be the last time that a chem/bio agent is used by the remnant thugs of Hussein.