Sunday, June 19, 2005

Softballs from Stephanopoulos

I tend to give interviewers the benefit of the doubt much of the time, but after just watching George Stephanopoulos' question time with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice I really was surprised at the lack of literally anything that resembled a "hard-hitting" question. Basically the "interview" consisted of Stephanpoulous bringing up various issues (Gaza pullout, Iranian elections, Iraqi security/exit strategy/Downing Street Memo, Bolton) and then allowing Rice to repeat the Administration's talking points on each issue uninterrupted.

Shockingly, there wasn't much news made in the interview at all, so far as I could tell. The one answer that got to me was Rice's response to a video clip of the mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq. Based on the Downing Street Memo, the woman accused the Administration of having taken America to war based on "cherry-picked intelligence" and so forth. Asked for her response to the release of the Memo, Rice literally shrugged her shoulders, sighed, and said "The United States and its coalition decided it was finally time to deal with Saddam Hussein," and then went on to discuss the need to do so, how it has made the world safer, etc.

If there was ever a moment for a strong follow-up question from the interviewer, that was it. The whole issue of the DSM, as far as I can tell, is that it seems to indicate that the decision to invade Iraq may have been made as early as July 2002. Not only did Rice's response to the question fail to address this element of timing, but Stephanopoulos' lack of response makes the answer she gave seem in fact to lend plausibility to the charges of critics that the decision to go to war was pre-determined well before March of 2003.

I haven't said much about the DSM, because I'm not convinced that it's nearly as significant as some of those on the left seem to think it is. Had Stephanopoulos followed up with Rice and asked about the timing, Rice probably would have responded as others in the Administration have done, refuting the statements in the Memo and saying that the final decision to invade was not made that early. But, I guess we'll never know ... maybe Wolf Blitzer will ask later on "Late Edition."

[Update: Crooks and Liars has video [Windows Media Player] of the DSM exchange. -- 3:00 p.m.]


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