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September 24, 2007

Interviewing Ahmadinejad

It's sort of a shame that CBS's Scott Pelley declined to interview Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and instead popped off aggressive statements as if he were a White House press release with a cardiovascular system. I'm for the hostile interview here, but go stupidly overboard and you lose your credibility. And Pelley went so hostile that he let Ahmadinejad easily dance away. Plus: Did we really need to have this exchange?

PELLEY: What trait do you admire in President Bush?

AHMADINEJAD: Again, I have a very frank tone. I think that President Bush needs to correct his ways.

PELLEY: What do you admire about him?

AHMADEINEJAD: He should respect the American people.

PELLEY: Is there anything? Any trait?

AHMADINEJAD: As an American citizen, tell me what trait do you admire?

PELLEY: Well, Mr. Bush is, without question, a very religious man, for example, as you are. I wonder if there's anything that you've seen in President Bush that you admire.

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, is Mr. Bush a religious man?

PELLEY: Very much so. As you are.

AHMADEINEJAD: What religion, please tell me, tells you as a follower of that religion to occupy another country and kill its people? Please tell me. Does Christianity tell its followers to do that? Judaism, for that matter? Islam, for that matter? What prophet tells you to send 160,000 troops to another country, kill men, women, and children? You just can't wear your religion on your sleeve or just go to church. You should be truthfully religious. Religion tells us all that you should respect the property, the life of different people. Respect human rights. Love your fellow man. And once you hear that a person has been killed, you should be saddened. You shouldn't sit in a room, a dark room, and hatch plots. And because of your plots, many thousands of people are killed. Having said that, we respect the American people. And because of our respect for the American people, we respectfully talk with President Bush. We have a respectful tone. But having said that, I don't think that that is a good definition of religion. Religion is love for your fellow man, brotherhood, telling the truth.

PELLEY: I take it you can't think of anything you like about President Bush.

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, I'm not familiar with the gentleman's private life. Maybe in his private life he is very kind or a determined man. I'm not aware of that. I base my judgment on what I see in his public life. Having said that, I think that President Bush can behave much better. There were golden opportunities for President Bush. He should have used them better.

What the hell sort of question is that? And Pelley's answer is that Bush believes in God? This is the best we can do?


September 24, 2007 | Permalink


Does merely giving lip service to one's religious beliefs really make a person a religious man? I don't think so. It's about how one lives their life, and in the case of a president, the policies they pursue.

By that standard, Bush is not religious at all in any meaningful sense.

Posted by: Rich | Sep 24, 2007 9:46:17 AM

Tough Question

Waldmannijad: hmmmm uhhhhh hmmmmmm I GOT it ! Stamina. I admire his stamina. I mean plain physical stamina. I read that Lance Armstrong was impressed after the went bike riding. Wow. Too bad Mr Bush is in the wrong line of work.

Damn Ahmedinejad managed much better than I could. That hurts. Can't call him Ahmed dim and bad until I think of a equally unfair nickname for his inteviewer CBS's own Scott Pelley [pot smelly isn't close].

I guess Pelley was deliberatel making Ahmendinejad look good and claiming that the onl good thing he can sa about Bush is that he is religious [like sure he didn't imagine that his question could be turned on him riiight]. What a traitor.

Doble Damn that Pelley bastard is making me think like a Freeper.

Snark aside Ahmed-dim-and-bad is a menace to Iran. Sure he scored a lot of debating points but at what cost

Bush: that bastard said I'm not a good Christian ?!? That islamofascist jerk said I'm not a good Christian ?!? Nuke Teheran !!!

I mean I love snark but let it chill for 16 months. Got to be careful, when you share a planet with a superpower run by an insane immature idiot you know.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann | Sep 24, 2007 10:04:41 AM

If you interview Ahmadenejad and he comes across as the sane one, you know you have problems.

Trying to turn the issue into a pissing match about Bush's religiosity was really a dumb move. It's something that only someone so completely isolated from reality and so convinced that outward lip service to religion can never be questioned would make.

Ironically, I'd venture to guess that the secularism of the Beltway media makes this possible-- if everyone is completely disconnected from any kind of religious faith, then a person who, despite everything around him, sticks with it, is somehow considered honorable in and of itself. Ahmadinejad, no stranger to religious people he opposes politically or regards as religiously hypocritical, is having none of it.

Posted by: Tyro | Sep 24, 2007 10:06:40 AM

I don't know which one comes off more creepy. Ahmadinejad is being cavalier and impolitic.

Posted by: barg | Sep 24, 2007 10:35:42 AM

Here is the problem: the people on TV are idiots. Next issue.

Posted by: Ahmadinebenihenipenijad | Sep 24, 2007 10:43:57 AM

The real story is how unhinged the interviewer is. Since when is "why don't you love our President who is trying to start a war against you?" considered a legitimate question?

I'm a patriotic American citizen and I cannot think of a single trait of Bush's that I admire, and I agree completely with Ahmadinejad that Bush treats religion with contempt.

(And no, potential trolls, that doesn't mean I agree with how Ahmadinejad does his job. At some point you'll have to realize that the world is not a 1-dimensional thing. Agreeing with person X about topic Y does not mean I agree with person X about topic Z.)

Posted by: RickD | Sep 24, 2007 10:56:03 AM

Pot Sucky, how's that for "60 Minute's" Bush administration shill? Pot Sucky got played like a cheap deck of cards. Instead of asking intelligent questions of Ahmedinejad, who, despite the caricatures of him, is no idiot (nut though he may be), Sucky decided he'd channel Karl Rove, Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg, and the rest of the Fascistariat, including the 4th estate. And he was batted down like a tattered shuttlecock. Does anyone think that maybe, just maybe, Sucky, "60 Minutes" and the rest of that crew will look at this interview and realize how idiotic they are, or do you think they'll view it as some kind of media triumph over a overhyped "force of evil"? Because Ahmedinejad, like every other Muslim leader in the Middle East, including the U.S.'s good friends in the House of Saud, doesn't like Israel, don't forget.

Posted by: Belding | Sep 24, 2007 10:58:27 AM

Let's see - a trait of Bush's that I admire.


You know, I can't think of one. I mean, I've heard he's nice to his dog, but that's not something I admire - I have contempt for people who are cruel to animals but I don't admire someone just because they're nice to their pets. That's like one of the minimal standards you need to achieve to be a human being.

Wow. I'm kind of stunned. I figure there would be SOMETHING admirable about the man somewhere, but I can't think of it. I can't think of another president in my lifetime that I could say that about - Reagan was an impressive public speaker, and Bush the Elder was actually a fairly good manager - but there it is.

Of course, from what I've seen I don't see anything to admire in Ahmadinijad either. The one place he gets a leg up on Bush is that he was apparently born to a working class family and rose up through his own ambition to power, rather than being born into one of his country's aristocracies, but that's not really an admirable trait if you use that power for contemptible ends.

Posted by: NonyNony | Sep 24, 2007 11:06:21 AM

I Can't believe the american media has singlehandedly in a matter of 5 short days managed to make AHMADEINEJAD look good, statesmenlike even. Useless twits.

Posted by: Northern Observer | Sep 24, 2007 11:18:49 AM

I was startled--as was Ahmadeinejad--when Pelley said he had spoken to Bush about the interview and implied he was "officially" asking questions.

Posted by: anon | Sep 24, 2007 11:18:51 AM

That exchange depresses me. A supposedly independent journalist once again advancing the notion that George Bush personifies the USA, that accepting him is accepting all of us, criticizing him attacks all of us. Once again the absurdity of Bush as a religious man is not only accepted but reinforced.

So sad.

Posted by: Stephen | Sep 24, 2007 11:19:43 AM

The whole thing was bizarre. Pelley then accused him of isolating his nation and making them a world-wide pariah.

I couldn't figure out if was talking about Iran or the United States.

Posted by: Culture of Truth | Sep 24, 2007 11:28:49 AM

I am sorry to have to say this, but Ahmedinejad, the source of a string of impolitic and inflammatory statements in the past, managed to speak here with a candor and truthfulness, and with an appreciation of the real meaning of religion, far beyond whatever we could expect from our own leaders.

What a way to start the week.

Posted by: Carl from L.A, | Sep 24, 2007 11:34:36 AM

Maybe we should switch presidents and then we'll see if you clowns are happy!

Ahmadinejad is the leader of a terrorist government! Remember that? Or does Bush Derangement syndrome neuter you of any sense at all?

All of you are great examples of hatred paralyzing the senses - one would think that beyond all of the political disagreement we could all at least agree that Ahmadinejad isn't worth a polite interview - but no! I expect to see one of you at the White House fence shooting rounds into the Oval office soon!


Posted by: Evrviglnt | Sep 24, 2007 11:36:23 AM

Evr -

Lay off the meth.

For all our sakes, dude.

Posted by: Dan | Sep 24, 2007 11:48:15 AM

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can clear brush like Bush can. The man is driven, and if he hdan't become president, western Texas would be brush free by now.

And everyone thinks thta Lady Bird Johnson had some great idea about making highways beautiful. She obviously missed the brush problem.

Posted by: Spud1 | Sep 24, 2007 11:54:16 AM

Evr -

Lay off the meth.

For all our sakes, dude.

Posted by: Dan

Maybe I spend too much time at Balloon Juice, but I thought he was a spoof. Although after following the link. I guess not. Whoops.

Posted by: Cyrus | Sep 24, 2007 12:06:39 PM

The more I see about Ahmadinejad, the more convinced I am that the propaganda machine in this country has been slandering him for years.

That doesn't mean that he doesn't have some real flaws too, but it *does* mean that every bad part of his reputation needs strong scrutiny (and if possible, an unbiased translator - e.g. the infamous misquote about Israel disappearing from history).

Posted by: Chris | Sep 24, 2007 12:09:31 PM

Ahmedinejad nailed the "Christianity" of Bush maore clearly than any other person I've heard.

Posted by: Neal | Sep 24, 2007 12:14:47 PM

Makes you wonder about the extent to which conservative idealogues have now infiltrated the corporate media. Since when is the president of a sovereign nation required to express admiration for George W. Bush? The question is ludicrous; that Pelley would persist in asking it is evidence that he's unhinged. Still, it's an interesting exchange, though not in the way Pelley had hoped it would be, I'm pretty sure.

Posted by: smoogatz | Sep 24, 2007 12:40:47 PM

smoogatz wrote, Since when is the president of a sovereign nation required to express admiration for George W. Bush? The question is ludicrous; that Pelley would persist in asking it is evidence that he's unhinged.

Not really. This line of questioning is, I assume, pretty standard for Stalinists.

Posted by: liberal | Sep 24, 2007 1:08:35 PM

Bush cuts some good brush. Even if he uses a girly man chainsaw.

Posted by: An Outhouse | Sep 24, 2007 1:11:53 PM

Dan -

Dude - pull your bruised lips off of that bong you've been hugging - there's nothing funny about listening to you guys feeling sorry for Ahmadinejad.

Bush may be a clown, but the left keeps saying "I don't agree with everything Ahmadinejad says, but he does hate Bush, too." You guys have ugly friends.

It seems you don't want us to face down tyrants either militarily or journalistically - how predictable...

Posted by: Evrviglnt | Sep 24, 2007 1:40:52 PM

Bush may be a clown, but the left keeps saying "I don't agree with everything Ahmadinejad says, but he does hate Bush, too."

You're the only one saying this. The left is actually pointing out how sad it is that Bush can't even look good compared to Ahmadinejad.

It seems you don't want us to face down tyrants either militarily or journalistically

That's just really dumb. Asking "How awesome is George Bush? Super awesome or mega awesome?" isn't a way to face down a tyrant. It's just a big waste of time that makes Americans look stupid. If you were more worried about this country and less about unfounded assumptions about your political opponents, this would concern you too.

Posted by: Stephen | Sep 24, 2007 1:45:25 PM

Dear Evrviglt,

Pelley wasn't facing him down journalistically, he was asking him absurd questions that gave Ahmadinejad a chance to look reasonable and statemanlike. And "clown" is way too nice a verdict on Bush

Posted by: anan | Sep 24, 2007 1:45:57 PM

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