Giuliani's Point

There is something in what Rudy said this morning that makes some sense to me:

"If you put someone in a civilian court, within a short period of time a lawyer is appointed and the person shuts up. If you have a person in the military system you can question him endlessly for as long as you have to make sure you have gotten the full scope of information."

And this is the tragedy of what the Bush administration did. By adding torture and abuse to what can be done during interrogation to terror suspects, by having no regard for future convictions and no real care in determining who might have been captured by mistake, and by rigging military tribunals to ensure guilty verdicts in advance, the Cheney goons destroyed their own argument. But even on those grounds, the fact that Cheney and Bush tried Richard Reid in a civilian court as Obama has the undie-bomber renders Giuliani's otherwise fair point moot in this case.

Let me also point out that Stephanopoulos did not challenge the untruth that Guantanamo Bay is a more humane detention center than domestic criminal ones (and thereby Giuliani's view that closing it was "totally absurd"); he did not challenge the untruth that Bush's military tribunals were generally deemed fair (they absolutely weren't); he didn't point out that the Red Cross deemed prisoner treatment at Gitmo as unequivocally torture; he did not insist that Giuliani explain why he has switched his position on civilian trials from Reid to the undie-bomber (merely referring to Bush's own position); and ended the interview summarizing the GOP talking points.

He also, of course, did not challenge the most absurd claim by Giuliani in the whole interview: that there were no terror incidents on Bush's watch. He wasn't a total push-over, and did not simply cave on everything. But as an act of journalism, it was not his finest hour. Perhaps realizing his biggest howler, he hurriedly wrote a blog-post with the fighting words:

Giuliani seems to have forgotten about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and shoe bomber Richard Reid.

How do you sit in front of someone who says 9/11 didn't happen under Bush and say nothing?

In all this, Stephanopoulos was much more a handmaiden to Giuliani's p.r. than a journalist. And the chit-chatty bonhomie between the two, the cozy friendliness, the constant laughs and grins and cheeriness is what the MSM has become so good at. It's all too often about rich, powerful celebrities using other rich, powerful celebrities for a synergy of media and political self-advancement. And in the morning, the last thing you want for ratings is a tough or uncomfortable challenge of a leading politician. You can hear the producers now: keep it light, keep it warm, don't make them switch channels with some kind of conflict.

The result? Giuliani ate Stephanopoulos for breakfast.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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