My reaction to the Colin Powell “palm tree incident” on last Sunday’s MTP was the same as most: Gee, what a dumb move by the staffer. But Jonah Goldberg is right:
Now, for reasons I find unfathomable, Russert seems to believe that in those 30 or so seconds, the fate of the free press hung in the balance. On CNN he declared, “I’ve been in countries where staffers pull the plug on people. This is the United States of America. It really is unacceptable.”
A “taxpayer-paid employee interrupted an interview,” he exclaimed to The Washington Post. “Not in the United States of America, that’s not supposed to go on. This is attempted news management gone berserk.”
Get thee to thy fainting couch, Tim! A government employee attempted to cut off an interview! In America!
Uh, folks, this happens every day.
I used to be a television producer. I know lots of television producers. And I can tell you flat-out: The suggestion that there’s something unusual, never mind ominously un-American, about cutting off a taped, satellite interview when it’s run too long is such nonsense it doesn’t pass the giggle test.
Now, again, Russert had the upper hand here and there’s no way for an aide to cut off a live interview [Actually, it was simply being taped, making it much less problematic.] in mid-question without making her boss look like a horse’s backside. But Russert’s indignation is a bit much. Indeed, many a time I’ve seen Russert–and virtually every other broadcast journalist–cut off a big shot interviewee–up to and including the President of the United States–because time in a segment was up, there was a need to air a commercial, or whatever.