On Monday night, CNN’s John Roberts previewed the United Nations appearances of President Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a manner that seemed to offer moral equivalence between Bush and the avowed Holocaust denier. Roberts, who filed the September 18 report for "Anderson Cooper 360," was introduced by an announcer tease that set a tone of comparative moral ambiguity:
ANNOUNCER: "He's a president on the ropes. He's a radical on the rise. The leaders of Iran and the United States on a nuclear collision course -- and now the whole world is watching."
First off, "on the ropes" is an odd description for a President with rising poll numbers. Secondly, the language here seems to indicate two leaders, both of whom refuse to back down, rather then one who has threatened to destroy Israel and one who wishes the other would desist in such behavior.
Roberts reported the conflict, in a segment that aired at 10PM EDT, as though he was discussing a political contest between two candidates. Summarizing the problem, he stated:
ROBERTS: "But how did the mudslinging between Tehran and the White House get so bad? Certainly, Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust and insistence that Israel be wiped off the map were part of it. Some people also fault President Bush for what they call increasingly Islamophobic language that alienates Muslims."
So, a major world leader denies that millions of Jews were killed in the Holocaust and advocates wiping out Israel, and that’s just "part" of the problem? How could that compare to President Bush using the term "Islamo-fascism?" And is "mudslinging" really the phrase that should be used for the statements that have been coming out of Tehran?
Midway through the segment, there was a line that just begged for the audience to "insert joke here," Roberts cited Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski, he informed, "dealt with Iran as President Carter's national security adviser." Well, that’s certainly one way to put it.
According to Roberts and Brzezinski, it’s President Bush and his actions that scare much of the world:
ROBERTS: "There's no question among experts and analysts that Ahmadinejad wants to remake Iran into the Middle East's dominant power. Whether nuclear weapons are a part of that strategy is an open question. But as worrying as Iran's intentions are, so, for some people, is what President Bush has in mind."
BRZEZINSKI: "And the president sometimes creates the impression that, come what may, he's going to address this issue decisively in the next two years, which I suspect means only one possibility, war, because to resolve this issue may take longer than two years, to negotiate seriously."
It's an "open question" as to whether Iran wants nuclear weapons? Well, Ahmadinejad's stance towards lsrael certainly isn't "open." Wouldn't such a leader want nuclear weapons?
Roberts also informed the audience as to the Iranian leader’s strategy:
ROBERTS: "...Ahmadinejad hopes to drive a wedge this week between the U.S. and its allies at the United Nations, who might feel just a little pushed around by the White House."
If they feel pushed around by Bush, it’s a good thing that the reasonable, level-headed Ahmadinejad is there to calm them