Christiane Amanpour interviewed Richard Goldstone yesterday
Amanpour is one of the world's most prominent journalists. Her questions to Goldstone demonstrate a greater grasp of the material than that of the folks on MSNBC whom I poked fun at yesterday - but not much greater. Her questions don't demonstrate comfortable familiarity with the facts such as you'll always get in, say, a report by Avi Issacharoff Akiva Eldar or Amira Haass. Partially this is because her brief is "the entire world", I suppose - but isn't that a fundamental part of the problem? You can't flit around the world and expect to be an expert on everything?
Another part of the problem may be her definition of her job as interviewer. She poses questions, Goldstone responds, and she mostly moves on to the next one. She doesn't listen to what he says and challenge it; there's no discussion. The purpose of the exercise is to give the interviewee a pulpit from which to respond to some charges that are flowing around, not to measure him against them. I suppose she might say that's not her task, in the spirit of "we report, you decide", but that assumes her viewers know more about the matter than she does.
Which may be true. But it helps explain why journalism is largely a losing proposition these days.
So much for Amanpour. Now, Goldstone.
Ben Dror Yemini has convinced me that I ought to carefully read the Goldstone report. I'm not certain I'll ever find the time, but he says it's too pernicious simply to be shrugged off. Until I read it, howver, there are still things that can be deliberated. One of them is the position of Richard Goldstone: what did he think he was doing, and why. That's why watching him talking with Amanpour is important.
He makes two striking statements. The first is his comparison of the American way of war with the Israeli one: the Israelis, he carefully says, intentionally aimed at civilians. Amanpour seems a bit taken aback by that, but she recovers. The second is his comparison of the Israeli judicial system and that of the Hamas: Israel's is secretive and not reliable. Hamas, on the other hand, has a fine legal system. Of course, he adds, if they wish to be reinforced by international outfits, that can also happen.
I report, you decide.