Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Iran's rulers have learned to play the media game

OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts :: Mr. Ahmadinejad's Neighborhood: "Mike asked President Ahmadinejad why he has said that "Israel must be wiped off the map." Please explain, Mike said. But Mr. Ahmadinejad never really did, except to finally say, as he has before, that Israel should be somewhere else, like Germany. Is this what he means by "wiped off the map"--or is he just being prudent on television?

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."

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.

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."

Mr. Goldberg, a correspondent at CBS News from 1972 to 2000, is the author of "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News" and, most recently, "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America."

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