NBC Nightly News Reads Viewer Mail, Williams Pleads for Dictator Interviews

September 22nd, 2006 7:37 AM

At the Daily Nightly blog, Brian Williams noted the arrival of a viewer mail segment on the NBC Nightly News, complete with a video clip. Brian's selection on the first big topic -- his interview with Ahmandinejad, the "president" of Iran -- was balanced between critics and supporters, but the critics were lumped together as censors who can't handle dictator interviews. One did compare NBC's roughness on our leaders compared to softness on foreign leaders. This one's just funny, over the top, but funny: "I hope that once Iran uses the nukes it develops, that we can replay this video interview to see how NBC handled this hero of theirs."

Congratulations and kudos to NBC for this feature. Here's how Williams saw it on the blog:

If you watched last night's broadcast, you saw and heard a small selection of the e-mails we've been getting -- most having to do with our interview of the President of Iran. A staggering number of e-mails are harshly negative, and the writers vehemently argue that we should not have interviewed Ahmadinejad and should not air his comments on NBC. Some of the e-mails are rude and hateful. Some vow never to watch NBC again. The question I'd like to ask is: shouldn't Democracy be bigger than that?  How do we decide who we can interview...only those who are non-threatening and completely reasonable? Who decides that? I thought a comment made by "Lucy" on this blog put the argument best:

"What are people afraid of? That (the Iranian President) will somehow persuade us to become radical Muslim extremists? Let THEM be the ones who limit free speech. Let US be the ones who encourage it... even when we don't like it."

I would not say that it's utterly wrong for anchor men to interview dictators who hate America. But the tone of the Williams interview was softer than his tone toward President Bush.