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Is 60 Minutes Being Used to Whitewash the Iraq War?



I recently attended a seminar at the Poynter Institute with 60 Minutes bulldog Steve Kroft, talking about one of the biggest interviews of his career: the infamous sitdown with Bill and Hillary Clinton, in which the then-presidential aspirant insisted he did not have an affair with former TV reporter Gennifer Flowers.Genniferflowers

The interview, in which the Clintons appeared calm, honest and forthright was credited with righting his Presidential campaign at a time when not many people had even heard of the Arkansas governor. Folks figured, if he could survive an interview with Steve Kroft on the toughest newsmagazine on TV, Clinton must be telling the truth.

Unfortunately, he was lying through his teeth.

And when I asked Kroft whether he felt snookered by the Clintons, who had clearly used his and 60 Minutes' reputation for journalistic excellence to fool the American public, he said, simply, no way.

Kroft "It was a good interview," I remember him telling me from the podium. "We asked the questions that needed to be asked."

That wasn't an answer that made me feel very good. As a journalist, if I pass along quotes from a source that turn out to be untrue, I feel as if I failed a little bit -- even if discovering the truth would have been extremely difficult.

Mccainiraq And it is in that light I find myself considering John McCain's latest trip to Iraq.

According to former CNN news head Eason Jordon's site Iraqslogger, Cain's much-maligned trip Sunday to a Baghdad market -- where he blamed the media for exaggerating the violence -- wasn't just a run-of-the-mill campaign photo-op. It was a display expressly organized for 60 Minutes.

Mccain60mins The show's up-and-coming correspondent Scott Pelley is apparently preparing a story on McCain for Sunday, and tagged along for the market visit, which included 100 troops, attack helicopters, sharpshooters and bulletproof vests for the Congressmen in attendance. (See the NYT debunk the proceedings here)

60minutes_large In the same way Barack Obama used a 60 Minutes interview to introduce himself to the American public and deal with accusations that he wasn't "black enough," McCain seems to be trying to game the venerated newsmagazine into pushing his contention that the troop surge in Iraq is working. This would be a key component in revitalizing McCain's floundering presidential campaign.

Now that the NYT has blown the whistle on McCain's photo-op, I don't expect the newsmagazine to swallow his entire line. But the whole song and dance seems a sad comedown for the guy whose campaign bus was once dubbed the "Straight Talk Express."

And if 60 Minutes doesn't puncture this particular bubble, McCain won't be the only one who sees his crediblity seriously harmed.

Dancing With the Stars Recap: ZZZZZZZZ

I've never understood why a dance competition has drawn so much viewership. But last night's Dancing with the Stars was particularly deadly because it's at that even-more-boring point where all the unpopular stars are getting kicked off bcause viewers think they're duds.

Shannen3 Long off-the-runway ex-supermodel Paulina Porizkhova was first. Last night, Shandi Finnessey, a former Miss USA, got the heave ho, even though NBA hall of famer Clyde Drexler and ex-Hee Haw punchline Billy Ray Cyrus remain the competition's most co-ordination-challenged participants.

And, somehow, I manage not to care so much...

Idol Recap: Even Sanjaya Was Boring

Is it me, or did Sanjaya look like he was dressed for his confirmation party last night? (He certainly sounded like he was singing for the reception!)


[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:38pm]


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