Lauer Lays Low as Carville Claims US Military "Almost in a State of Rebellion"
Imagine you're a news show host, and a former presidential adviser just claimed that the United States military is near to "a state of rebellion" against civilian authorities. Do you think you might have asked a follow-up question or two?
Apparently not, at least if you're Matt Lauer interviewing James Carville, who made just such an inflammatory allegation on this morning's Today show. The topic was the source of the leak of the alleged plans for an attack on Iran to destroy its nuclear capabilities, such plans said to extend to the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons to destroy hardened, underground facilities.
Carville was adamant that the military were behind the leak. His theory was that the military "thought by leaking this, it would lessen the chances that they would do something foolish in Iran which is always a possibility with this administration."
Carville prefaced that remark with a stunning claim that "people in the military are almost in a state of rebellion against civilian authorities, particularly Secretary Rumsfeld, over what happened in Iraq."
Civilian control of the military is a hallmark of democracy. It's hard to make an allegation that cuts deeper to the heart of our entire constitutional system than Carville's. He virtually suggested that we are on the brink of some kind of military coup d'etat.
Under the circumstances, any self-respecting journalist would have have halted any other line of questioning he had in mind, grilled Carville on his explosive allegation, and demanded he produce his evidence in substantiation. Matt Lauer never did a thing. Didn't bat an eye. To the contrary, apparently unfazed, he pursued his prepared questioning by seeking to put talk-show host Michael Smerconish, and by extension the Bush administration, on the spot with this question:
"Given the failure of pre-war intelligence and the president's current approval ratings of 37%, does the president even have the political capital to consider a military strike against Iran?"
He mockingly continued: "I can only imagine how that speech to the nation goes when he says our intelligence detected that Iran is an imminent threat and people across the country are going 'here we go again.'"
Lauer's only possible defense for his fundamental lapse of journalistic instincts would be that he considers Carville such an outlandish figure that his wild allegations are not even worthy of examination. But if that is so, why have him on as a guest?
On a day when the fulminating Carville imitated a Paul Shankland parody on the Rush Limbaugh show, Lauer's failure to have asked him to substantiate his breathtaking allegation was unforgivable.
Finkelstein lives in Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show 'Right Angle'. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org