Accuracy in Media

The reviews are in. Some say that NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams turned in a humorous performance when he appeared on the NBC “Saturday Night Live” comedy show. But it wasn’t as funny as his September 19 exclusive interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The interview was so funny it made you cry. 

Here were some of Williams’ hard-ball questions:

  • Mr. President, you’re here as a guest of the United Nations, under the protection of the United States. What is your message to the American people?

  • What was your reaction to the pope’s speech? And do you accept his apology?

  • Do you accept his words of apology?

  • The President of the United States, speaking to the United Nations today, said to the people of Iran he looks forward to the day when America and Iran can be good friends. And close partners, in the cause of peace. How do you react to the statement of the American President today?

  • If I was President Bush, sitting here across from you, what would you say to him?  President to President, but more important, man to man?

Williams admitted that he received a “staggering number of e-mails” about the interview that were “harshly negative,” even “rude and hateful.” He said, “Some vow never to watch NBC again.” Williams countered: “shouldn’t Democracy be bigger than that? How do we decide who we can interview…only those who are non-threatening and completely reasonable? Who decides that?”

Robert Spencer of says that Williams’ fawning interview missed a very important opportunity. Referring to Ahmadinejad’s letter to Bush, in which the President of the U.S. was invited to join Islam, Spencer noted that the Iranian leader had also referred to the invitation giving way to a threat. “Those who refuse to accept an invitation will not have a good ending or fate….” he said. This is consistent with “the Islamic tradition going back to Muhammad,” Spencer notes.

Spencer adds, “So Williams could have asked him: does your vision of nations together upholding peace and justice require that they accept Islam? Was your letter to Bush coupled with a threat of violence if the invitation was not accepted?”

This gets to the heart of the matter-that our enemies want to kill us. Brian Williams played patty cake with an anti-American fanatic. He didn’t do his homework. Perhaps he should take his routine to Saturday Night Live on a regular basis.

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