Matt Lauer's Friday morning interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ended badly. It wasn't that Rice brought bad answers to the interview. It wasn't that Lauer mocked or insulted Rice. It was that Lauer elevated a tired publicity stunt from the radical leftists at Code Pink to something approaching "Newsworthy" status (video available here):
LAUER: Let me end on just a different subject. On Wednesday you were set to appear before the House Foreign Relations Committee, and a protestor walked right up to your face, Madam Secretary, and said, with red paint on her hands and said, quote, "the blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands." She was taken out of the room. Not on a policy level, on a personal level, what was your response to that moment? Were you angered? Were you upset? Were you frazzled? How did you respond to it?
RICE: No. In fact, she was there. She was taken away. Look, I know what I'm doing and I know what this administration has done to liberate millions of people from the tyranny and the grip of Saddam Hussein. And to give them a chance for a better, more democratic future. I know that it's hard for Iraq. I know we're making sacrifices in Iraq. I know that it's a time of great concern here in the United States because the American people want to believe that we can succeed. But I do know that Iraqis are making progress. I know that our military forces are having a lot of success in beating back Al Qaeda and making Iraq a safer place. And so I'm completely comfortable with what we're doing. I'm glad that we took the step to liberate Iraq from the terrible dictator Saddam Hussein.
Rice had a good answer, but the question -- even phrased in a neutral tone -- elevated Code Pink to someone equal to the Secretary of State. Now imagine a conservative getting in Madeleine Albright's face or Hillary Clinton's face and wonder if a Matt Lauer would ever ask them to describe their feelings about a conservative protester calling them a bloody-handed killer -- or perhaps in the Clinton era, blaming them for inaction on slaughters like Rwanda. Would protesters be elevated to equal importance then?
The Code Pink prankster was one Desiree al-Fairooz from Texas. Typically, the Dallas Morning News puffed her up with no real description of how radical she or her group is. We're treated to Code Pink boss Medea Benjamin cooing that "She's become a great strategist, a great analyst and a centered and determined lobbyist and detective."