Saturday, June 07, 2003

Why can't the news be more fun?

Randy Cohen writes a column called "The Ethicist" for the NY Times Magazine. He came on Aaron Brown's show and laid it straight on the line as far as what is at the heart of the WMD story. Brown was oviously uncomfortable with the whole exchange, though he couldnt't really knock Cohen's rather non-chalant statement of fact: Bush is either a liar or a fool. Here is the whole exchange, judge it for yourself:
BROWN: Perhaps not in your paper over at "The New York Times," but I assure you that television is the ultimate democracy. People vote all the time, and that's, right or wrong, honestly, we need to pay some attention to that, don't we? COHEN: Well, sure. And it's a story that should be covered. But the question is, how much is it covered? And what other stories are neglected in order to cover it? That, I think, is -- involves a professional ethical obligation to the people that you -- look to you and -- well, less so to me -- for news. BROWN: There's an interesting right or wrong, I'm not sure exactly where it centers, in this whole debate and discussion over weapons of mass destruction and what the government may have known, may have sort of known, but made it sound like maybe they knew more, all of that. What do you see there? COHEN: I see you being surprising gentle, Aaron. I think the story -- and I think this is the big ethical story of the week -- is many people are asserting that the president is a liar, that the president lied about -- in order to get our country into a war. That's a serious story. BROWN: Well, yes, but it's also -- that would be a very serious story. One should have evidence of that, though, shouldn't one, before one makes that argument? COHEN: Do you mean, before one drags the country into a war? BROWN: Well, that also. But before one asserts that anyone, including the president of the United States, is a liar, one ought to be able to prove that. COHEN: Well, it's an interesting problem, that the -- and more and more papers are reporting it now, that the president listed three causes for the war, Iraq was an imminent threat to us, and to its neighbors, that Iraq was connected with the events of September 11, and that there would be weapons of mass destruction there. None of these things have been found. And I think many people believe the burden is on the president to prove his case. And if he doesn't, he then, it seems to me, is either a liar or a fool, and that's a very awkward position to be in. BROWN: Well, couldn't -- how are we doing on time here? Oh, well, that answers that question.
(Aside: God but it is pathetic how these people try to cover for Bush. Someone comes right out and states in black-and-white terms the core of the problem and Aaron's first response is to ask his producer how long it will be before the commercial break.
BROWN: I mean not sure what the ethic -- Let me just go another minute, OK? We'll figure it out. I know you will. Why is the burden on the president, and why are those the two choices? Why isn't one of the choices that intelligence was simply wrong? They thought they were right, but they were wrong. That is also a possibility. COHEN: Well, yes, but the alternatives then are corrupt or incompetent. And that if you are so wrong about all three causes, then I wonder if you can honorably hold -- continue to hold your office. It's an important thing. Many people died. BROWN: They died (UNINTELLIGIBLE). COHEN: And the questions of his integrity have been raised by many places. BROWN: And I agree with that. COHEN: By members of both parties. I think it has to be taken seriously as an ethical matter, absolutely. BROWN: Usually we come, you know, you come in here and we yuk it up some. But... COHEN: Well, I -- it's a big week for ethics. BROWN: It is a big week. COHEN: And this is kind of the big ethical story, and it's a serious story. BROWN: It is a very serious story. We don't... COHEN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I know, I like the funny ones so much better myself. BROWN: Well, we like them both, and we like you. Thanks for coming in
Poor Aaron. Why can't the news just be more fun?

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