Careening from the accusatory to the adoring, there was only one constant in Ann Curry's interview of Benazir Bhutto aired on this morning's "Today": an over-the-top emotionalism that had the show's news anchor lurching from shouted accusations to the verge of tears.
Curry is in Pakistan this week, and scored an exclusive with Bhutto, whose triumphal return to the country where she has served as Prime Minister ended in tragedy as terrorist bombs on her motorcade route killed about 140 people. Curry began her interview by focusing on Bhutto's feelings of responsibility for those deaths. While the transcript is telling, only the video completely conveys Curry's mawkish meltdown.
View video here.
ANN CURRY: You have gone to the hospital. You've seen the wounded. You have sat with families who've lost. You've seen women crying, and show you their children who will not have fathers.
Bhutto said how hard that was and that there were really no words to lessen the families's grief. That wasn't enough for Curry.
CURRY: If you had not returned, these women would have their husbands, they would have their children. These 140 people [Curry's voice breaking] would be alive, these 500 people would not have been wounded. Do you regret coming back now, seeing what has happened? You knew it was going to happen.
BENAZIR BHUTTO: I knew an attempt would be made.
CURRY: So, you knew that people would be at risk!
BHUTTO: I knew that people would be at risk.
CURRY [shouting]: So was it worth that risk, given what has happened?
Bhutto thought it was, for the sake of Pakistani democracy.
CURRY: This was a very slow-moving motorcade, surrounded by millions of people. Did you make the right choice [pause for dramatic effect, then shouting again] TO COME BACK IN THIS WAY?
BHUTTO: Ann, I find this question very uncomfortable.
CURRY: Of course you do, it's a painful question.
BHUTTO: I'll tell you why. It means that terrorists can dictate the agenda.
A bit later, having virtually accused Bhutto of responsibility for the deaths of her supporters, Curry shifted effortlessly into near hero-worship.
CURRY: You're a mother of three. You could be living in London. Fine, you've already been Prime Minister. You [voice near-cracking again] don't have to do this. The torture of your husband, the death of your father. Lost two brothers. You've been in solitary confinement. Thrown in jail. After all of that, you have given enough. Why? [Shouting again] PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY!
"Given enough"? Some might say that Bhutto has taken enough. Although there was surely politics behind the charges of corruption leveled against her, have a look at the seemingly substantial record, including the apparent fact of her $1.5 billion in Swiss bank accounts.
In any case, is it too much to ask Ann to conduct a straight-up interview with a world leader, and save the schmaltz for her next schmooze-in about a pop tart's latest rehab stint?
Note: the day before Bhutto returned to Pakistan, Captain's Quarters presciently raised the threat of violence.
Bonus Coverage: It was a rough morning for NBC-MSNBC women who ventured into the sports world.
On "Morning Joe," host Joe Scarborough, a Red Sox fan, and panelist Willie Geist, a former sports reporter and producer at CNN, were discussing at length the Sox's ALCS-clinching victory over Cleveland last night. Mika Brzezinski, trying to establish her own sports bona fides, proudly announced that she had watched Temple beat "Miami" in football. Upon questioning, it became clear that she didn't realize that Temple's opponent was Miami of Ohio, not the former national-champion Hurricanes. For that matter, it appeared that Mika was unaware of the very existence of Miami of Ohio. The screencap shows the moment in which a perplexed Mika shouted "what?" as Willie and Joe laid the news on her.
View video here.
Later, on "Today," Massachusetts native Meredith Vieira triumphantly proclaimed that the Red Sox had won "the World Series." When Matt Lauer began to protest, "no, no, no, let's not get ahead of ourselves," Vieira corrected herself, saying the Sox had won "the playoffs."