60 Minutes: Home of the hard-hitting softball ambush puff piece

Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” assumed a reverential kneeling position before President Obama and his gal pal Hillary Clinton for an interview so fawning and obsequious that even liberal Kirsten Powers grew uneasy:

It was really something you would expect from like, the state-run media. It was that kind of level of propaganda as far as I???m concerned. ??? I can understand maybe in agreeing to the interview, letting them have maybe one softball question in the beginning and then move on to more important things. This was a joke. Just not challenging basic things like the president claiming that Hillary???s been a great secretary of state in part because they have dismantled Al Qaeda. Now, I???m sorry, is anyone paying attention to what???s going on in North Africa? Why is the president not asked about Algeria, Mali, Libya? These are front and center in the news right now.

Kroft clearly senses he went too far – there’s a difference between heavily biased media coverage and pure propaganda.  He found it necessary to run to the equally absurd Piers Morgan of CNN for on-air therapy, leading Allahpundit at Hot Air to ask this magnificent question: “Why is Morgan interviewing Kroft at all here? Is gaining an audience with He and She so magnificent an experience that it qualifies as news in itself?  Coming soon: Anderson Cooper interviews Piers Morgan about what it was like to interview Steve Kroft about his interview with Obama and Hillary.”

Kroft told Morgan that he is King Barack’s very favorite courtier because “I think he knows that we’re not going to play gotcha with him.  That we’re not going to go out of our way to make him look bad or stupid, and we’ll let him answer the questions.”  Which is funny, because “60 Minutes” rose to fame by playing gotcha with people.  They used to pride themselves on conducting aggressive interviews, often criticized by their targets as expressly designed to make them look bad.

Powers has the situation exactly right.  She has pinpointed the border between biased media and propaganda.  Biased media would have gently, respectfully asked Obama and Clinton some questions about Algeria, Mali, and Libya, all of which have become utter disasters.  Abundant assistance for squeaking past these tough questions would have been provided, including the infamous “some of your critics say” dodge, which allows the reporter to twist a tough question into its most ridiculous and easily dismissed form.  The favored politician’s rehearsed answers would be accepted without challenge or follow-up.

But a propagandist avoids unpleasant subjects entirely, because he knows there is absolutely nothing Dear Leader could say in response to even the most tactful question that wouldn’t make him look either delusional or inept.  To even raise the subject of events in North Africa renders the notion of a Hillary Clinton “victory lap” absurd… and that’s without asking the questions that a real reporter would have asked, such as “Why did you tell the families of the Benghazi dead that the attack was caused by a video tape, and vow to bring the makers of the tape to justice?”

Or, “How, precisely, does a U.S. ambassador serving in one of the world’s most dangerous areas go about getting a message to the Secretary of State when he thinks he needs more security?”

Or even: “Mr. President, what specific personal achievements of Hillary Clinton can you cite to justify naming her as one of America’s greatest Secretaries of State?”

Questions like that can be asked without resorting to ambush journalism.  Clinton and Obama could have been given all the time they wanted to answer such questions in full, without interruption.  But instead, we got “how can you guys stand being so awesome?’ fan service, which dishonors the people who died as a result of the Administration’s manifest incompetence, and the American voters they shamelessly deceived during political damage control efforts.

The media is sometimes deliberately unfair to its political opponents, but the general attitude of adversarial journalism they take toward Republicans is the way they should conduct themselves at all times.  They should be the agents of our skepticism, sitting across the table from the Administration’s lavishly funded media and political operations as opponents, not signing on as junior volunteer members.  “Journalists” are supposed to dig into stories, not bury them.