FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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“.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail