You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

June 24, 2004

My Name Is Andrea Mitchell, And I Can't Hear A Word You're Saying

Andrea Mitchell just interviewed "Anonymous," a CIA officer who's written a new book called Imperial Hubris. (He's also written a previous book anonymously, called Through Our Enemies' Eyes.)

In the interview, Anonymous says it's "a gross mistake" to believe Osama bin Laden is "trying to rob us of our liberties." Instead, he explains, bin Laden gains support because of widespread Muslim opposition to "particular American foreign policies." Specifically he mentions our support for the Israeli government, our presence on the Arabian peninsula, our actions in Iraq, etc.

Andrea Mitchell then responds:

Mitchell: You're saying that no amount of public diplomacy will reach the Muslim world and change their minds because they hate everything that we stand for.

To his credit, Anonymous does not do what I would have done. Which is leap across the table, grasp Mitchell's head in my hands, and scream "ARE YOU FUCKING DEAF?" into her ear from one inch away. Instead, he simply reiterates what he said before. Mitchell still shows little sign of understanding.

It's hilarious and of course terrifying how people like Mitchell -- who is married to Alan Greenspan, one of the most powerful human beings on earth -- simply cannot hear the most straightforward statement.

Anonymous: The sky is blue, and it would be a gross mistake to believe the sky is green. The sky is not green.

Mitchell: So... you're saying the sky is green.

Posted at June 24, 2004 03:16 PM | TrackBack

You're saying that Andrea Mitchell understood what he was saying because her response took into account everything that he said?

Posted by: ism at June 25, 2004 09:57 AM

Mitchel is afraid of the consequences of what was said. That is why she is not following up. She should not have done the interview, if she was that afraid of the answers. Mitchel is obviously not a Murrow caliber reporter.

Posted by: patience at June 25, 2004 11:48 AM

Andrea Mitchell is not a reporter, let along a Murrow caliber reporter. She gave up her integrity credentials long ago.

Posted by: Carol at June 25, 2004 01:28 PM

Any member of the press that has reached the height that mitchell has must have obeyed the general philosophical rules of the western press and intelligensia. It is a systematic problem which is revealed through just these types of interactions.

Posted by: the colonel at June 25, 2004 01:50 PM

Anonymous has said that the only effective course of action is a brutal war, short of changing the policies that many in the Muslim world find so offensive. Mitchell didn't hear the part after 'short of', because those policies have become embedded in our sense of national identity. It's a sort of heresy (of the letting the terrorists win variety) to suggest that those policies can be altered. Anonymous himself seems to think that all out war is less of a cognitive stretch than policy change. They hate our freedom to control access to their oil.

Posted by: dreamsign at June 25, 2004 02:33 PM

This is very interesting and disturbing at the same time. Apparently Ms. Mitchell is so cognitively constricted she doesn't even consider possible what anonymous is saying. It is preconsiously filtered to the extent that she CAN NOT hear what he is saying without aggressively and applying her filters to translate what is being said into very restricted views. In other words she has become volitionally brain damaged. No cognitive dissonance either. The perfect Stepford reporter! I bet she has a string of Pulitzers! Fascinating.

Posted by: SamSnake at June 25, 2004 02:45 PM

I've labored over this phenomenon for a long time, and the questions eternally remain, "Is it willful ignorance, lack of conceptual powers or being a malevolent asswipe?" In the case of Mrs. Mitchell, I say it's a little of all three. Can she possibly be this stupid? Sure - but I don't believe she can't fucking hear words that are strung in basic grammatical patterns; therefore, it's willed ignorance when ignorance is needed. Are her conceptual powers out of whack? She's in the media, so I'd, yeah. Is she a malovelent asswipe? That's beyond my purview, by it's so entirely possible that a grain of old-fashioned asswiperism is in her, I'll go there. I mean, there may be a SLIGHT amount of asswiper present.

But let's face this simple fact: when you're questioning the mechanisms of power, not merely power's lashing out, you are necessarily in very scary waters, as far as the media/average Americans are concerned. They both don't want to and can't go there. And that's the kind of low-IQ combination that's contributed to 900 soldiers and thousands of civilians killed in Iraq. It's Chomsky/Parenti/Goodman/Moore territory, and they don't like it one bit.

But I fucking love it.

Posted by: panqun at June 25, 2004 08:28 PM

I think for the most part you correctly interpret AM's response to Anon. as being, essentially, "That does not compute. Too much of a stretch for my tiny mind from what I believe already. Must lower the mental bulkheads. Ignore. Ignore."

Alternatively, what do we get if we take it at face value? Then it becomes: "Not support Israel? Not maintain bases in the Levant? But that's like everything America stands for! We can never change those things without ceasing to be who we are!"

While this would be extreme, I suspect her reaction actually contains some of both elements: identifying America integrally with its Mideast Policy, and getting brainfreeze at encountering an unfamiliar thought.

Posted by: garyh at June 26, 2004 04:19 AM

I went to the MSNBC interview. Very interesting. The CIA guy seems to be saying that if we don't deal with energy policy and Israel policy then we have to fight a vicious war against Islamic terrorists. And he is occupying this weird bureaucratic space where he acknowledges that our policies are crazy yet advocates for all out war in the absence of any sanity about those policies. It's like he is accepting the crazed political discourse and is just doing his job in advocating and implementing doomed tactics.

Posted by: Jon Greenbaum at June 28, 2004 01:32 PM

Andrea Mitchell has, in the past, been reprimanded and silenced for her investigations into the Carlyle Group. Perhaps she is now being cautious in her reporting. This may explain her response to Anon.

Posted by: Patricia at June 29, 2004 09:36 AM


That's very interesting. Can you elaborate on it?

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at June 29, 2004 06:56 PM

This is disturbing for many reasons. As far as the media idiocy angle, that, lamentably, is the rule and not the exception. What gets my gall is the fact that an anonymous man s getting a damn book deal! Where does that leave all of us who have names that we can actually use? I must know! Does this mean that, if I am just interesting enough that I can get published by telling them I cannot use my name? The mind fairly boggles at the implications! You would at least think that the man could hire a freaking ghost writer for God's sakes!
Thanks for the post; I'll go fume somewhere else now :)

Posted by: Redbeard at September 16, 2007 04:34 PM

"... leap across the table, grasp Mitchell's head in my hands, and scream, "ARE YOU FUCKING DEAF?"

Ah, I'd pay to see that. Actually, I'd pay just to know it happened, even if I couldn't see it myself.

Posted by: catherine at September 17, 2007 04:13 PM