Mike Wallace Failed to Expose the Real Ahmadinejad

Bernard Goldberg has a piece in Opinion Journal in which he examines Mike Wallace’s interview with Ahmadinejad. He concludes that Mike Wallace missed an opportunity to do an accurate profile on the real Ahmadinejad, but instead, allowed the Iranian president, who is very media savvy unlike previous Iranian leaders, to get his message, obviously steeped in American liberalism, to the American people:

In fact you got the impression that Mr. Ahmadinejad, unlike the ayatollah, was talking right past Mike and straight to the American people. He had a message to deliver, and he was going to deliver it no matter what Mike wanted to talk about. 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.”

In fact, instead of seeming like a modern Hitler (a not unreasonable comparison, given that one wanted to exterminate all the Jews while the other wants to wipe Israel off the map), 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.

Bernard Goldberg also points out what was missing from Wallace’s interview with the Iranian leader:

They should have found some people who know the real Mahmoud Ahmadinejad–not the made-for-television, Mr. Rogers version. They should have found some people to fill in the blanks; people who could paint an alternative picture of this man. They should have rounded up a few Iranians living in exile–the ones who must have been throwing shoes at their television sets during the interview–and asked them what really makes him tick.

But there were no exiles in the piece. No Israelis, either. Nor were there any historians, people who would have been able to say that 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.

Wallace offered us only a puff piece. It was an opportunity for Ahmadinejad to portray himself as a reasonable man, not the lunatic he really is: a man who wants to bring about world catastrophe so as to usher in the return of the 12th Imam. So, like Nic Roberton of CNN, Mike Wallace was used as a propaganda tool.

Update: Allah at Hot Air has some video of Mike Wallace and Ahmadinejad “acting like an old married couple.”

Update II: Dennis Prager takes a look at Mike Wallace’s interview with Ahamdinejad and comes to the conclusion that, after having sent Dan Rather to Iraq to interview Saddam Hussein and now Mike Wallace to Iran, CBS should be renamed the Communication for Barbarians Service.

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