Sunday, February 06, 2005

Ward Churchill on CNN

Ward Churchill, talking to Paula Zahn on CNN (Windows Media). It came into my box via Blogdigger.

Warning: it's a trainwreck!

Normally, I hate the Cable News Interview With A Controversial Subject -- the kind of interview where the journalist wields the word "sir" with such a level of ferocity that its victims ought to consider sueing for libel. I almost always side with the person getting yelled at, generally a hapless leftist whose view is being distorted or manipulated by the opportunistic "journalist" with an agenda to stick to, and no qualms about beating down interviewees until they say uncle. There is also often a severe cognitive dissonance between the interviewer and the interviewee, especially if the latter is a soft-spoken academic. For instance, I remember being horrified at the way Michael Hardt was often completely misunderstood in his appearances on TV after the publication of Empire four years ago.

But in this case it's impossible not to be sympathetic to Paula Zahn. Churchill just seems unable to answer any questions directly, or to face what he's saying honestly. He makes some outrageous reversals, and seems completely affectless and immovable throughout -- completely robotic. The effect isn't so much "wouldya take a look at this moonbat?" (Bill O'Reilly's trademark) or "I hope you bleed to death on a rock" (Chris Matthews). With Zahn, it's more a kind of awe that this guy really seems to mean what he says.

But I did lose sympathy with Zahn towards the end -- when she started talking about whether Churchill is going to get fired or not. That's the kind of thing O'Reilly gets off on. But for normal human beings, it's in poor taste.


alex said...

Interesting, I had the opposite reaction. I felt Churchill gave substantive answers to the queries posed by Zahn; for example, by explaining that that he meant that the "technocratic core" at the WTC was a legitemate military target and the calculation that X number of civilian deaths was worth to destroy the target is no different than the calculations the U.S. military makes as a matter of course - clarification of this point seems to have taken up most of the interview. Whether you agree with Churchill or not, its certainly an idea to be engaged. Which parts did you feel were not direct answers? What were his outrageous reversals?

5:58 PM  

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