For a fine but rare example of how a free press is supposed to operate in a free society, please turn to the transcript of the interview that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did with Bill LuMaye of Raleigh, North Carolina's very own 680 WPTF yesterday.
LuMaye knows nothing if not how ask hard questions like, "I saw your press conference, sir, and I have such tremendous respect for you on how reserved you are. I probably would have gone up and slapped a few of those folks."
The secretary didn't hold anything back when responding. "You can imagine what was going through my mind," Rumsfeld said. "Fortunately it didn't come out of my mouth."
LuMaye was at his very best when he asked:
I'll tell you something, I've never seen such a pessimistic group of individuals when it comes to our military capabilities.
We have such a huge audience of military families, people touched here in North Carolina as you know. And they seem to get it, Mr. Secretary, so I'm not going to go down the list of the silly questions I heard today.
But maybe if you wouldn't mind, just help bring us back up to speed because I think we've forgotten some real basic things. Let's just start with the war on terror and the fact that this wasn't going to be over with in a year with a few extra commercials thrown in. It's going to take some time, isn't it?
Rumsfeld responded brilliantly:
It really will. It's a struggle that's taking place within the Muslim faith, and it's really by a relatively small number of violent extremists and a large majority of the people of that faith who are going to have to ultimately engage those folks and see that the people who get brought into these Madrasa, extreme Madrasa schools, and trained to go out and put on a suicide vest and kill people, are taught something other than that, something that would be useful to the world, something that would be useful for them in their lives.
"Yep it is between them and that's why we as big of an actor as anybody," is what I would say in response if I were evil.
Of course if I were evil I would think this was a telling bit from LuMaye:
And I think for folks, just to get a basic understanding of how your job and the military's job here to get a better perspective, they hear sound bytes all the time, Mr. Secretary. Oh, they don't have vests, they don't have this.
As Secretary of Defense and all those involved, you do have to take a look on a global scale and budget. And how is the military, I guess in making a long question shorter, how is the military learning, transforming, modernizing? Because I know that's happening.
Again if I were evil, I would think this shows a lack of respect, not to mention concern, for the troops that is far greater than anything coming from Joel Stein. I mean, who cares about their safety, let's get to the cool stuff that can kill.
But I'm a good person so I highly recommend the whole interview. If all of the media acted this way, there wouldn't be any problems.