Thursday, September 30, 2004

I ♥ John Humphrys

Did you hear John Humphrys's interview with Tony Blair on the BBC?

It was impressive. Mr. Humphrys did not let Mr. Blair off the hook easily. For instance, when Blair said that he could not apologize for having taken Saddam Hussein out of power--one of thos apologies that, of course, is supposed to act like anything but--Humphrys noted that regime change was not the stated goal of the operation in Iraq, and so claiming that as a success does not work. And when Blair noted that "everyone" believed there were WMDs in Iraq, Humphrys pointed to such exceptions as Russia, France, Germany. When Blair answered that France and Germany also believed that there were WMDs there but had different ideas about how to respond, Humphrys pointed out that Russia never believed the WMDs were there.

Time and again, Humphrys took Blair's response to a first (often probing in itself) question and demanded further expanation, complication, contextualization, justification.

And let me add that this was no brief interview. I was listening to it during a long drive before which I had had one or three cups of coffee, and so I had to find what Messrs Humphrys and Blair would call the loo, and when I came out, it was still going on. I don't know how long the interview lasted, but it carried me through much of southeastern Virginia.

And another impressive thing was that Blair actually took the questions seriously, trying to answer them, rather than replacing answers with "talking points." I did not agree with a lot of the things he said, and I'm sad to say he did seem to buy into his own rationalizations, but he took the interview as something appropriate to do as the prime minister.

(That the UK is gearing up for an election, too, probably doesn't hurt.)

Two conclusions, cleverly posed as questions:

1. Would Bush ever agree to be interviewed in this way?

2. What American journalist would push Bush as Mr. Humphrys pushed Mr. Blair?

p.s. Thank you to Low Culture for the ♥. We ♥ you, Low Culture, and we ♥ you, cinetrix, for pointing us to that site.

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