The Question I Didn't Ask Robert Wexler: Will Bush Use HR 362 to Use a Naval Blockade of Iran to Escalate Into Armed Conflict
I can't tell you how many times I curse under my breath when a news anchor doing an interview drops the ball and lets the person being interviewed have a pass when he or she avoids answering a question or doesn't answer it directly or changes the subject or replies with an answer that demands another level of questioning. So I was extra frustrated that I was guilty of this on my own radio show. But we came up with a solution.
I can't tell you how many times I curse under my breath when a news anchor doing an interview drops the ball and lets the person being interviewed have a pass when he or she avoids answering a question or doesn't answer it directly or changes the subject or replies with an answer that demands another level of questioning.
I see this kind of softball, weak interviewing happen every day. This article talks about my personal experience BEING one of those broadcast interviewers and a solution I’ve come up with—one that I tried, that worked, and could set a precedent for how the mainstream media handle unfinished interviews and resolve unanswered questions.
The other day, I was not surprised to find my chagrin waking me up at 5:30 AM as it sunk in on me that I'd been guilty of doing the same thing with my radio interview the night before with House Rep Robert Wexler (D-FL), who I am actually a big fan of. With the release of his new book, Fire-Breathing Liberal, I had a half hour interview booked about 30 minutes after he finished a few minute stint with Keith Olbermann.
A few hours before the interview, I got a call from Wexler's chief of staff, feeling out the climate for my interview. While my site, OpEdNews.com is an apparently friendly site for a liberal legislator, it has a lot of members who are further left than liberal. One site poll showed that 40% of our readers would support Nader McKinney or other. About 10% are conservatives who will probably support McCain. So I wasn't surprised when a writer wrote a hit piece on Wexler for endorsing House resolution 362, a bill which calls for putting tighter economic constraints on Iran, including the "demand" that President Bush prohibit the export to Iran refined petroleum products.
My Wexler-excoriating writer pointed out that this could justify a naval blockade that could escalate to war. Actually, a whole lot of people on the web are raising this concern.
One of our OpEdNews editors raised the same issue and a reader, responding to my invitation to suggest questions for my interviewee, again raised the same question, pointing out that former FBI analyst and NIE report writer Ray McGovern had also raised the concern.
So, when Wexler's chief of staff called me, about four hours before the show, to check out the "climate" Wexler would be encountering, I assured him it would be, overall, friendly, that I'd put a link in the article that tore Wexler a new one to David Swanson's article, In Defense of Robert Wexler, and that I was a fan of Wexler. But I also told him I did have another Wexler fan who wanted to ask him about the disturbing news that he'd signed on to a bill that others were saying could be used as a pretext to start a war with Iran-- a war set up and approved by congress.
Johnson assured me that Wexler was happy and ready to talk about the resolution. We had mutually reassured each other.
I'd set up the interview so my editor would be on the line, ready to ask away, when cued. After about 9 minutes talking about the book, about my having lived in his district, about the large percentage (about a third) of his constituents being Jewish, and how he dealt with Israel-- he pointed out that he'd been a spokesman for the Obama campaign, reaching out to Jewish communities, and how, under Obama, with direct talks with leaders, Israel would be at less risk, I asked my editor, Cheryl Biren-Wright, to ask her question about his endorsement of the bill that could lead to a naval embargo.
Wexler replied that there was no reference to a naval embargo written into the bill.
Cheryl asked him another question (She reviews this in great detail in her exceptional article. (If Increased Sanction Resolution 362 Could Give Bush License for a Naval Blockade, Why Support It?)
Moving the interview in a different direction than Cheryl wanted it to go, I commented on my belief that it would be easy, if a nation wanted to go nuclear, to do it without Iran's nuclearization, since N. Korea and Pakistan already have the technologies, and, what the heck, I'd reported the previous week that the US couldn't account for over 1000 nuclear weapon and delivery system parts. Even the US could be the provider of a nuclear weapon against Israel.
Before I knew it, we'd been talking about the bill and Israel and Iran for 13 minutes. There were only ten minutes left and the big subject I'd wanted to discuss with Wexler was impeachment. I had afterdowningstreet co-founder impeachment activist David Swanson waiting to get into the conversation and I wanted to ask Wexler how I could persuade my congressman, and my listeners could persuade theirs to endorse Kucinich's two impeachment resolutions and get things moving off the table.