Friday, August 08, 2003

A long time ago, I stopped regularly watching American TV news but I'm quickly becoming a fan of CNN's Newsnight normally with Aaron Brown, as it actually seems worth an hour of my time. I still watch it in addition to listening to the BBC World Service radio, which is sometimes complicating as the BBC's only newcast of more than 5 minutes in the evening also starts at 10 PM. Sometimes the Internet resolves that conflict.

Last night wasn't one of Newsnight's better performances. They spent the first 40 (!!) minutes of the broadcast going on about California. Sure, a recall effort in the nation's largest state is a pretty big deal and a lot certainly happened in that story yesterday. It wasn't totally unreasonable for it to be the lead story. But to spend 2/3 an hourlong broadcast on this one story, three or four different segments, was massive overkill. (Memo to Ahnold: try to avoid lame jokes using titles of or lines from your movies).

After CNN was done speculating on weighty questions like Arnold Schwarzenegger's alleged womanizing, they moved on to more trivial stuff like peacekeepers in Liberia, plans for nuclear proliferation in the US and an embassy bombing in Baghdad.

The California situation seemed like a bad joke until, in the Liberia segment, they played comments by the country's indicted war criminal/dictator Charles Taylor. Taylor complained that an American military helicopter landed in the US embassy complex but that US officials didn't have the courtesy to inform his government.

Normally, they would have sent us a note that there are Black Hawk helicopters landing at the embassy, sniffed the indicted war criminal. That's what you do if you respect international law. But we have no choice. We still accept American presence here, but people have to learn to do it properly.

(as quoted here)

To hear a man allegedly responsible, either directly or indirectly, for destabilizing four countries, for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and for ruining the lives of millions more yammer on about respecting international law and proper process was a pretty difficult thing to do while eating dinner. Even more amazing, Taylor made the complaint in conjuction with his efforts to void international law by getting the war crimes indictment against him quashed. You couldn't make this stuff up.

It was hard not to laugh. Except that it's so serious. What's next? Idi Amin lecturing on the importance of respecting human life?


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