ISIKOFF BREAKS OUT THE DOLLS! When big journos play with dolls, they get to dream up what was said: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2009
Who knew: That this was Memorial Day weekend? Yes, well post again tomorrow. But already, operations wind down.
Isikoff breaks out the dolls: Imagining can be fun!
Yesterday, President Obama held a meeting with various human rights groups. What happened isnt entirely clear, for fairly obvious reasons. In this mornings New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg cites accounts of the meeting from two participants, outsiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was intended to be off the record. (Her sources said they left the meeting dismayed.) Stolberg quotes her sourcesbut not Obama himself. She offers a general idea of what sorts of things may have been said.
But last night, on our TV machine thingy, we saw Michael Isikoff give a much more detailed report about what happened. At times, videotape seemed to run in his head, so granular were his descriptions. He seemed to know what Obama had saidand where he looked when he said it, not to mention what hed been feeling. Isikoff was using anonymous sources toobut his sources seemed to be skillful novelists. He spoke with Rachel Maddow:
Obama wasnt simply clearhe was quite clear in what he said. But then, so was Isikoff! Indeed, the person who prepared the official transcript seemed to hed been quoting Obama. At any rate, Maddow asked about the subject of torture prosecutions, the possibility of maybe a truth commission or a commission of inquiry of some kind onto the issue of torture. Videotape started running again inside Isikoffs head:
Did Obama look directly at Holder? He certainly might have done that! Soon, Isikoff was describing Obamats manner as he dismissed an idea:
Isikoff thought the word trophy had been used, althoughnot having attended the meetinghe couldnt exactly remember. At any rate, Obama didnt dismiss the participants idea curtly. According to Isikoffs non-recollection, he did so sort of curtly.
Well have to admit it. By this time, we thought Isikoff may have been letting himself imagine things just a bit too freely. And when journalists let themselves dream about facts, they may start to dream about interpretations. Maddow joined Isikoff in that venture; she said the exchange we have just described seems like the biggest news here. From there, the pair of scribes went on at length, stating their view of what Obama had donestrikingly so, since it aint entirely clear they know what actually happened:
Maddow and Isikoff went on from there about the significance of what Obama did. Soon, the pair were thundering about Obamas unfortunate conduct in sort of curtly making it clear that he had no interest in whatever it was that someone may have proposed. (Isikoff thinks the word trophy was used. But he doesnt know, of course.) Those political factors should not have any influence whatsoever, Isikoff was heard to thunder. There`s a reason why the top law enforcement official of the United States is not the president of the United States, but rather the attorney general, Maddow curtly agreed.
Really? Could a president, on his own watch, reject the idea of a trophy prosecution? Were not sure. But then, were not sure what anyone actually said. With videotape seeming to run in his mind, Isikoff felt less encumbered.
Little children like to play dolls, imagining what the objects are saying. In our culture, journalists like to imagine things too. At any rate, as she finished the segment, Maddow was taped saying this:
Was this really invaluable stuff? Being sane, were inclined to say no. But by then, the analysts were chuckling softly. Putting their high school Latin to use, they thought about original meanings of the word Maddow offered: incredible.
We thought the term was a bit too harsh. Surely, some of Isikoffs claims were credible. Some of his claims may even be accurate. We just dont know which ones.
Captured on tape: To watch this segment, just click here. The transcript has already appeared on Nexis, but not at the MSNBC site. The transcript of Tuesdays Maddow show hasnt shown up either place.
No wonder Isikoff felt so free! Like the CIA, this cable channel seems comfortable in the absence of records.