This Week in Hypocrisy With George Stephanopoulos

by JP SOTTILE

There are many revolving doors in Washington, D.C.

Some are doors to power, some are doors to influence and profit, and some are simply portals of opportunity for party animals who desperately want to remain inside the Beltway.

That door is marked: “the media.”

Most become pundits, commentators and experts—the denizens of America’s blatherati.

It’s the easy way in and out, because you don’t have to pretend. You just keep on regurgitating talking points and, hopefully, you’ll score a few consulting gigs to help keep the kids in Sidwell Friends or to keep on receiving an annual invite to CPAC.

Both FOX and MSNBC provide important holding pens for some of these animals until they get invited back inside the corridors of power.

But an intrepid few actually try to navigate the door between politics and journalism. George Stephanopoulos is one of them.

Like most who go through that door—either into government from journalismor into journalism from government—George had to take an oath: The Hypocritic Oath.

The Oath sounds familiar: “First, do no harm”—to your friends, your colleagues, your access and your long-term status as an insider. In other words, don’t “drop bombs” on your dinner plate.

His strict adherence to Washington’s all-encompassing oath was on full display when Dennis Rodman, fresh off of his quirky visit to North Korea, went on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Talk about “hard-hitting” journalism!

And oh boy, did George go after Rodman, slamming him with “tough questions” about Dennis cozying up to a vile dictator who put thousands of his own people in prison camps. George, the ever-prepared political hack turned news personality, even waved a copy of a report by Human Rights Watch at the jovial, cartoon-like Rodman.

Although Rodman countered with “we do the same thing here,” he wasn’t prepared to wave a copy of a report by the same Human Rights Watch on the world’s largest prison population right here in the U.S.A., or to talk about theprivatization of American prisons and the “injustices” that keep ’em filled.

Why was he unprepared? Because he’s Dennis Rodman!

Sporting prodigious sunglasses, a colorful array of painted fingernails and more piercings than an artisanal pickle-making convention in Portland, the flamboyant Rodman simply laughed off most of Boyish George’s charges.

Rodman has always been an interesting mix of self-aggrandizement and sincerity, but the way Stephanopoulos went at him exposed far more about George than it did about Dennis or the young leader of the bizarre regime in Pyongyang.

Perhaps the vertically-challenged mop-top simply couldn’t pass up his first and only opportunity to slam dunk over someone of Rodman’s stature. He shot repeatedly, but no points were scored. Although the “stature” of the two seemed strangely more equal as the interview wore on.

The stark reality of these “hard-hitting” questions stood out in bas relief—an example of exactly what George wouldn’t do if he was one-on-one with an actual policymaker, or a person with real power and real impact on the real world.

Rodman and North Korea are easy targets for Boyish George’s journalist chops, such as they are, but if Stephanopoulos really wants to sink his baby teeth into the hard work of journalism, he has two glaring targets of opportunity: ask Secretary of State John Kerry about his visit to Saudi Arabiaand President Obama about his upcoming visit to Israel.

Like he did with Rodman, he can use Human Rights Watch reporting on the excesses and abundant abuses of those regimes. Alas, Saudi Arabia and Israelare two of America’s strongest allies, most reliable consumers of US-made weapons and, in the mainstream media, practically untouchable geopolitical partners.

Imagine journalist George asking Kerry about cozying up to a dictatorship that executes people for witchcraft, has an abysmal, Taliban-like record onwomen’s rights, has been a decades-long source of funds for terrorists, anexporter of jihadism around the world and engages in various types of human trafficking.

Either before or after Obama’s trip, George could ask about Israel’s violation of the Geneva Convention on settlements, deplorable conditions in the de facto prison camp of Gaza, its long-standing practice of incarcerating Palestinian children, use of food aid as a weapon, growing racial backlash against African refugees or its questionable sterilization policy.

Unlike Rodman’s “peace, love and understanding basketball” tour of North Korea—the decades-long relationships with both the Saudis and the Israelis have actual domestic consequences for the people who live in those countries, in the Middle East generally and, based on recent history, Americans who serve in the US military.

If Stephanopoulos really wants to be taken seriously as a “journalist,” he should seriously and directly take on CIA Director-to-be John Brennan on real issues, like the nuclear double-standard that punishes Iran for (supposedly) pursuing nukes, while Israel’s pseudo-secret nukes are never mentioned.

That’s one shot that gets blocked before it’s ever taken.

Perhaps that’s not surprising for a nation armed with the world’s most-powerful nuclear arsenal—the only nation to not only use nuclear weapons, but also to use them on civilian populations. Purveyors of American hypocrisy are rarely challenged the way Stephanopoulos challenged Dennis Rodman.

But, then again, hypocrisy is the lubricant that keeps the revolving doors “in” and “out” and “within” the Beltway spinning so efficiently.

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, published historian, radio co-host and documentary filmmaker (The Warning, 2008). His credits include a stint on the Newshour news desk, C-SPAN, and as newsmagazine producer for ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. He blogs under the pseudonym “the Newsvandal“.

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, published historian, radio co-host and documentary filmmaker (The Warning, 2008). His credits include a stint on the Newshour news desk, C-SPAN, and as newsmagazine producer for ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. He blogs under the pseudonym “the Newsvandal“.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Rodionov
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: a New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative