School Girl vs "Professional Journalist"
Two news stories recently caught my eye, not only for what each one told us about the state of the Republic, but even more so, what comparing them tells us about the sorry state of journalism today. In the first story, Chris Wallace of Fox News managed to be so obsequious that it made even George W. Bush uncomfortable to accept the gesture.
WALLACE: I want to follow up on that. Whether it is interrogation of terror prisoners or the intercepting of surveillance among al Qaeda members, are you ever puzzled by all of the concern in this country about protecting of rights of people who want to kill us?
BUSH: That is an interesting way to put it. I wouldn't necessarily define some of the critics of my policy that way. I would say that they want to be very careful that we don't overstep our bounds from protecting the civil liberties of Americans.
In the same interview, Bush grossly misrepresented Senator Obama's foreign policy:
WALLACE: Do you think there's a rush to judgment about Barack Obama? Do you think voters know enough about him?
BUSH: I certainly don't know what he believes in. The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was he's going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad, which -- I think I commented that in a press conference when I was asked about it.
WALLACE: I hope not. But so you don't -- you don't think that we know enough about him or what he stands for?
Bush's summary of what Obama supposedly said is patently false. The Senator actually said of Pakistan exactly what the President himself said, that if there were actionable intelligence that Osama bin Ladin were in a known location in Pakistan he would go after him, preferably with Pakistan's support, but even over their objection. As to "embracing" the Iranian president, what he actually said that started all the brouhaha was that he would be willing to meet with the leader of Iran (and 4 other countries hostile to the US) "And the reason is this: that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous." (Transcript available at CNN.)
Wallace did not challenge the President on this misrepresentation, but rather encouraged him. The interview was a segment on the Feb 10, 2008, edition of "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" is available in pieces on YouTube, and a partial transcript is available on FoxNews.com.
The second story involves Karl Rove's recent appearance at Choate, the exclusive prep school. Rove had originally been scheduled as a commencement speaker, but was rescheduled to make a longer public appearance, dining with a group of students and giving a public speech followed by a question and answer period.
The article describing the event in the February 12, 2008 Hartford Courant contained the following account, which was picked up by a number of other journals, including Rolling Stone, who hailed the student as a hero.
Then there was Marla Spivak.
Spivak, a senior from Hamden, was one of the students invited to have lunch earlier with Rove. That left her somewhat emboldened as she stood before the crowd and asked Rove to explain how giving gay people the right to marry would endanger other people.
Rove took issue with the way the first gay marriages came about, through the Massachusetts Supreme Court. An issue as important as the definition of marriage should be resolved by a legislature or a referendum, not a court, he said.
Gay couples could gain the legal rights of married couples through legislation without actually getting married, he said.
But wouldn't creating a separate body of legislation for gay people be creating a separate but equal system, a step back?, Spivak asked.
Rove replied with an answer about Mormons changing their views on marriage to conform with the nation's laws.
Spivak kept pressing. "You never actually answered, how does it threaten anyone?" she asked.
Rove asked, what's the compelling reason to throw out 5,000 years of understanding the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman?
What, Spivak countered, was the compelling reason for society to allow interracial relationships when they had once been outlawed.
Then Rove invoked the Declaration of Independence before Spivak interjected that its reference to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" seemed to support her claims.
Their verbal pingpong match tapered off after Rove brought up polygamy and Spivak acknowledged that she did not know enough about polygamy to answer. Rove later asked when she planned to run for political office.
Whereas Wallace was a disgrace to journalism, young Marla did her school proud. Having Rove on campus was somewhat controversial, but this exchange shows why it was a good idea. Marla and her classmates as well as the readers of the Courant, Rolling Stone and the others who covered it all learned a valuable lesson. Ignorance, bigotry, hypocrisy and their like will always be with us, but the light of truth, reason and justice can be shone upon them by youngsters who haven't even finished school. It is about time that journalists and Congressmen learned to have the backbone and persistence that Marla showed. Where is the threat? Where is the danger in same-sex marriage? Where is the justice in denying it? These are questions worth asking, be they asked by school girls, journalists, comedians or Supreme Court justices.
Chris Wallace, a second generation journalist should know better than to suck up to the President with such drivel. He should know enough to press when the President lies during an interview. He should not be shown up by a high school student. Shame on him! Shame on Fox for letting him! And shame on us for putting up with all of them. Marla Spivak should put them and us all to shame.
Feel free not to agree with the disdain I feel for the man who lies from the Oval Office. Feel free to not share my pride in my Commonwealth that its Supreme Judicial Court recognized the conflict between our Constitution and our laws and forced us to reconcile them. This is a free country and each of us should be a free voice. Each of us should raise that voice and ask the questions that we have, and make power answer those questions. Hard questions, honest questions, voiced freely and persistently is what keeps this country free, and keeps our voices free.
Thank you, Marla Spivak. You are a free voice, one that should make us proud.