PBS's Tavis Smiley Brings on Radical Journo to Call Osama-Death Cheering 'Idiotic,' A Message of 'Blood Lust'

A PBS viewer might be surprised that Tavis Smiley might recognize the killing of Osama bin Laden as a newsworthy event, since he believes Christians kill people in bombings every day in America. But on the day after the Osama mission succeeded, Smiley went straight to the radical left for the official PBS reaction. There's your tax dollars at work again, providing a megaphone for The Nation magazine and Pacifica Radio in the person of Jeremy Scahill, who brought the usual radical buzzkill. He described his mood as somber over the "idiotic" cheering that signals American "blood lust." 

SMILEY: Does that mean that you had your stomach turned by all the cheering and jubilation outside the White House?

SCAHILL:  Well, I think that quite frankly it’s idiotic to treat these kinds of international events like sporting events, like it’s the World Cup that we’re cheering for here. I think in a way it really is insulting to those who’ve lost loved ones in these wars and who lost loved ones on 9/11, to trivialize it by jumping up and down like that.

If that’s really what moves people in their heart, well, then I guess that’s fine for them, but I think a lot of people who lost loved ones on 9/11, certainly those that I’ve been talking to, are not jumping up and down. I think they feel a sense of sorrow, but they also feel a sense that at least they can have some sort of closure to the idea that this man, Osama bin Laden, who masterminded 9/11, has been brought to some form of justice. But no, Tavis, I don’t co-sign those kinds of actions. I never do. I don’t think it’s appropriate, and ultimately, I think it sends the world the wrong message. I think that President Obama treated this as a law enforcement operation to try to bring a culprit to justice rather than invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, and I think our response to that should be one of reflection on where we go from here, because this certainly isn’t over.

SMILEY: So what does all the cheering and jubilation that we have seen, the flag-waving and the like, what does that, to your point, Jeremy, say to the world?

SCAHILL: Well, I think that it sends a message that we are a culture that somehow is celebrating death and targeted execution, and haven’t even thought about all of the losses that have come with this, particularly in the case of Iraq, where upwards of a million people have been killed. I also think it gives an impression of sort of bloodthirstiness that I think is the wrong vibe to be pushing right now in the world. I think that we need to do everything we can to try to reach out to the Muslim world, to try to say that we have a lot more in common than we have that divides us, and I think that this kind of jumping up and down, chanting "USA, USA," sends a message of almost sort of blood lust. I think we need to be really careful about that.

Smiley obviously was not surprised by these answers. He was carefully guiding Scahill to make these points. Within the first 24 hours of jubilation, PBS and Smiley were telling the public that they had no right to celebrate, that they were sick in the head if they did. Smiley also wanted Scahill to remind the cheering American public that this entire War on Terror was a colossal waste of lives and money:

SMILEY: Add to your list that you’ve started now all those lives that have been lost here and abroad, add to that the billions of dollars that have been spent, add to that that we went through three presidencies – Clinton didn’t get him, Bush didn’t get him, Obama has – but three different administrations. But tell me whether or not to your mind it was worth it.

SCAHILL: Well, no, I don’t think that the trillion, more than trillion dollars that we’ve spent, the American lives that we’ve lost in terms of U.S. military intelligence personnel, the civilians that have been killed, particularly in the case of Iraq, that had nothing to do with 9/11, to kill this one man, if that’s what it boils down to, no, I don’t think that it was worth it. I think in order to have this kind of serious conversation on American television you need some time to dissect that, otherwise people try to say, "Well, this sound bite represents what that person is saying."

The reality is that there were wars based on lies that were waged in the name of avenging the 9/11 attacks, and they were wars that were indeed based on lies. The fact is that the Bush administration, which launched that illegal, immoral war on Iraq, didn’t even win that war in their own terms. The Russian and Chinese oil companies came in and swooped up the oil, Iran is tremendously influential now in Iraq when they weren’t before. There is an Al Qaeda presence in countries where there wasn’t one before, largely inspired by the actions taken by the Bush administration.

So being a New Yorker, Tavis, and speaking to you tonight from New York, my response to this is that much of what happened over the past 10 years militarily should not have happened. It should have been treated like a law enforcement action from the beginning. I think that in that sense, President Obama is to be given credit because he did make a priority trying to bring those responsible for 9/11 to justice and not trying to invade countries that had nothing to do with 9/11.

It's mildly surprising that Smiley let Scahill say a few nice things about Obama, since Smiley usually prefers whacking the president from the hard left. So why is "fair and balanced" PBS offering the American public this kind of talk show with their tax dollars?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis