Thursday, March 27, 2003
# Posted 10:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Here's a list of the questions asked:
"First, you, Mr. Prime Minister. Briefly, Secretary Powell said yesterday that the U.N. should have a role in post-war Iraq, but that the United States should have a significant dominating control of post-Saddam Iraq. How will that kind of talk play in Europe?2.
"For both leaders, if I may? We've, all of us, noted quite a shift in emphasis over the last few days from a hope that this could be over very, very quickly to the military in both countries briefing about months.3.
Mr. President, you've raised the possibility of holding Iraqis accountable for war crimes. I'm wondering if now if you could describe what war crimes you think they've committed to date?4.
...could I ask you both, you both ranged over history, the justness of the cause that you believe that this war is. Why is it, then, that if you go back to that history, if you go back over the last century, or indeed recent conflicts of your political careers, you have not got the support of people who've been firm allies, like the French, like the Germans, like the Turkish? Why haven't you got their support?If one were to sum up the nature of such questions, one could do it in two words: confrontational and predictable. In principle, confrontation is good. Challenges from the press force elected officials to justify controversial decisions and account for notable failures. While somewhat of a turn-off, the snide and condescending tone of most of the question asked demonstrates that even in times of war, Americans' support for the First Amendment is so strong that journalists have the right to grill the President as if he were the defendent in a murder trial.
Unfortunately, the predictable nature of today's questions render their confrontational stance worthless. These are questions that Bush and Blair have answered dozens of times before. This sort of repetition demonstrates a disturbing lack of creativity on the journalists' part.
If the press wants to extract concessions from the President, it has to challenge him on the evidence. Otherwise, press conferences become nothing more than a charade in which journalists pretend to be challenging presidential authority while the President himself gets to say vague but patriotic things such as "This isn't a matter of timetable, it's a matter of victory."
I guess this press conferences sums up how I've been feeling about the media over the past few days. When nothing happens at the front, the press spins it as a lack of progress. While challenge and confrontation are good in principle, this sort of desperate attempt to find bad news only exhausts the press' credibility and makes it harder for it to challenge the government when it really should.
Ultimately, media bias hurts both the press itself and the democratic process. It would simply be better for American democracy if both conservatives and liberals could get behind the press as an institution, thus giving it the prestige necessary to demand greater honesty on the part of elected officials. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
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