Played quite a lot of audio of Christiane Amanpour and Cindy Sheehan today, and their views are basically indistinguishable. Amanpour was on Larry King last night, and Sheehan was part of a panel televised by C-SPAN last night.
Most people understand that Sheehan is a lightweight radical, but so is Amanpour. Amanpour is protected by her “journalist” credentials, but her opinions are not supported by anyhing except frequent flier miles. She has a long history of anti-Bush outbursts, which has now metasticized into virulent anti-American rhetoric. She really got rolling last night:
Well, I have been with the Iraqi Army. I’m trying to visualize the kind of vehicle that they were in on Sunday. I’ve been with the Iraqi Army in a completely unarmored vehicle that looks more like a basic truck.
And, it’s really tough when you go out and do that and for sure every time I go out with either the U.S. or the Iraqi Army I am very conscious that this is a potentially life-threatening exercise and, you know, you basically pray from the minute you go out to the minute you come back and you thank God when you’ve come back.
And, I cannot tell you how awful I feel for Bob and Doug and for their families, their wives, their children who have to put up with them going away and waiting for them just like our families do when we come back.
But, as Peter Arnett said, and I think that the others have said, that number one it’s our responsibility. Number two, if we don’t do it, who does it? We have had so — we have to have an independent eye on these conflicts. The war in Iraq has basically turned out to be a disaster and journalists have paid for it, paid for the privilege of witnessing and reporting that and so have many, many other people who have been there.
And I think that’s terribly, terribly difficult for us and unfortunately for some reason, which I can’t fathom, the kind of awful thing that’s going on there now on a daily basis has almost become humdrum. So, when something happens to people that we identify, like Bob and like Doug, we wake up again and realize that, no, this is not acceptable what’s going on there and it’s a terrible situation.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, looking at that heartbreaking video tape of her, I mean, it’s really heart wrenching. The first video tape was more composed as her friends have said.
And here in the second one, you know, after being held for weeks she is crying and she is desperate. And who can imagine what is going through her head. I mean, obviously it is the most awful situation for anybody to be in. I mean, the most awful.
And it is sad because she has devoted her life to understanding the Iraqis. She dresses a lot like them when she is there. She goes out and about. She is not one of these mega-closeted, mega-guarded, you know, network correspondents like we are. And she has tried to do her best to understand the situation.
So hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, she will be released. I mean, you know, what else can we hope for? And certainly her family are hoping for that as well. But I just think it is so sad. I mean, by an indicator Iraq is a black hole.
Yes, they have had elections. What kind of a government are they going to come up with. Will it be a national unity government? Or will it be the one that sows the seeds of civil war?
Yes, the U.S. has promise reconstruction, but the United States inspector general for reconstruction is about to come out with a report that is saying that it is just not going apace and that it is difficult to see, according to this report, how they are ever going to get what they promised done.
Which means, according to a new poll that is coming out today, that most of the Iraqi people are now losing hope that the promised reconstruction is going to happen and that the quality of their lives is going to increase. This is a big drama because hope is the only thing they have in the middle of this spiralling security disaster. And by any indication whether you take the number of journalists killed or wounded, whether you take the number of American soldiers killed or wounded, whether you take the number of Iraqi soldiers killed and wounded, contractors, people working there, it just gets worse and worse.
CALLER: Yes, my question is, why hasn’t there been more outrage on the part of the American people and the U.S. media, government, on the recent bombing in Pakistan, killing all those women and children? Ignoring sovereignty and international law?
I mean, I haven’t seen anything in the American media that has really claimed how awful it was and the anger, the legitimate anger on the part of the Pakistani people. It just floors me that there’s no outrage.
KING: Go ahead. Do you want to take that?
AMANPOUR: You know, I think — well, certainly there’s been a lot of reporting about it. Perhaps not enough for that view of it. As you know, there’s not enough international reporting on American television anyway.
But I think to the bigger point, why are we there? We’re there because if we’re not, whose word are we going to take for it? For instance, over the bombing in Pakistan, and for instance, over the constant atrocities in Iraq.
Are we going to take the Pentagon paid Lincoln Group who are paying positive stories to be written in the Iraqi press? Are we going to take what the administration tells us? Do you remember at the beginning of this war, Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, told us that these insurgents were just a bunch of dead enders who amounted to absolutely nothing.
Well, that was three years ago. You remember on your own show, not so long ago, the vice president of the United States said that the insurgency was in its death throes, in its last throes.
Well, we’re there to report what’s actually going on and we pay a heavy price for trying to get to the truth. And the truth is what our business is all about. And that’s why we’re out there, despite the enormous, enormous personal cost to us, to our families, and to our networks.
CALLER: That’s correct. It seems to me that the civilian media reporters are given more attention than the average, everyday American soldier.
KING: I’ll have everybody answer it….
AMANPOUR: Well, I think it’s an incredibly good question. The caller is absolutely right. And, as Bob Schieffer has just said, of course we focus on very well known people and members of our own community.
But the reason that the deaths and injuries of the American soldiers don’t get as much publicity is because we are by and large banned from seeing it.
The United States government has made a decision that we are not allowed to see the coffins, that we’re not allowed to see the burials, that we’re generally not allowed to go to any of the areas where there are wounded, U.S. military hospitals.
Perhaps you can see a little bit more in Landstuhl in Germany. Perhaps when we go to the hospitals in the United States. But it’s very, very difficult to get close to that kind of real tragedy that the American servicemen and women are going through as well.
What did Amanpour bring to her job at CNN? From her bio:
Before joining CNN, Amanpour worked at WJAR-TV, Providence, R.I., as an electronic graphics designer. From 1981 to 1982, she worked as a reporter, anchor and producer for WBRU-Radio, also in Providence.
Amanpour graduated summa cum laude from the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor of arts in journalism.
So, how did Amanpour come by her opinions? (Sheehan came to hers by tragedy, and must be given a great deal of understanding, but not the jet-setting Amanpour.) Here’s a bit of biography from Amanpour’s own mouth in a 2000 speech:
But 17 years ago, I arrived at CNN with a suitcase, with my bicycle, and with about 100 dollars. Indeed I came from one of the best local stations who took me in right after college and sort of had pity on me and gave me a job. And they encouraged me to try CNN because they knew somebody who worked there. And basically said, “You know, this is a great opportunity for somebody like yourself who’s foreign, who has a foreign accent. We hear foreign accents on CNN. It’s crazy, it’s wild, who knows, maybe they’ll take you because you certainly don’t fit in, in the American spectrum of news.
Anyway, I got down there and it was really exciting. We were pioneers, we were proud to be a band of young college graduates thinking we’d get some practical experience on the job, and hoping that experience would be a steppingstone to the big leagues.
Little did we know then that CNN would become the big league
Because I am foreign I was assigned to the foreign desk. I kid you not, it’s true. I was really just the tea boy to begin with, or the equivalent thereof, but I quickly announced, innocently but very ambitiously, that I wanted to be, I was going to be, a foreign correspondent.
And of course I started (we’re talking) 17 years ago, when the trench-coated foreign correspondent was the job to strive for. When reputations in news could be made with a couple of well-reported foreign stories.
Amanpour’s undeniable talent is for self-promotion backed up by fearlessness. She has been willing to go to dangerous places. This of course does require physical courage of which she has plenty.
But courage is not an indication of intelligence or depth of character. A thick passport and an accent may impress the Davos gang, but really, read her work or listen to her speeches. They are at a level of a college kid blissfully unaware of the world he or she has not personally seen.
Travel can blind and often does the traveller the key admonition to know what you don’t know.