On Oct. 13 President George W. Bush was featured interviewing soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq via satellite.
The White House later accidentally released a sound feed for the rehearsal of this ‘interview,’ prior to the actual taping of the program.
While this fact may shock you, as it should, you may be equally surprised to know that almost every president before ours has done the same.
Yes, it’s a little known fact to the general public, but the White House has used these types of set-ups to portray their administration in a positive light for years.
When criticized for the practice, the administration argued that the rehearsal was a necessary step to ensure that technical difficulties would not be an issue and the interview would go smoothly.
However, the rehearsal also assigned each soldier the question they were supposed to answer, as well as a designated officer who was to answer so-called ‘unscripted’ questions.
The fact is, these soldiers and officers were hand-picked to answer normally hard-hitting questions about the status of the war in Iraq.
At what point did the White House decide that this was an acceptable way of portraying an interview? Of course, I expect certain things to be biased when coming from certain sources, but to avoid any dissenting views in an interview seems to cross the line.
The mixed news coming out of Iraq has left many unsure as to what to believe.
Naturally, the Bush administration wanted to combat negative media attention by giving a hopeful outlook on the situation.
But what percentage of the soldiers and officers in Iraq agree with those interviewed by Bush that day? The ones chosen to explain the situation were certainly not a random mix, chosen for their appeal to the president’s greater interest.
The media has only confused most of us on the issue of Iraq. What is really going on there?
Some reports claim we are making slow, but steady progress toward our goals while others are equally sure that we will end up failing and the country will fall into a civil war.
Ironically, a reason for Bush’s staged interview was probably to boost his dismally low approval ratings.
However, the reason for these very ratings have been a result of his failure to be completely straightforward with the American people.
Even many of those in support of the war in Iraq are doubtful of how it is being handled and expect an accurate assessment of progress or setbacks in the region.
However, this situation indicates a larger, more troubling trend: over the course of the last 50 years, the general public’s view of politics and government has gone from admiration and support to downright cynicism and skepticism.
In these times, we don’t need yet another reason to mistrust our government and its claims.
Especially among younger generations, it has come to be expected that politicians will ‘spin’ the truth, not necessarily by directly lying, but by omitting information, or, in this case, by only revealing positive predictions of one’s policies.
Even if a relatively unbiased person wanted to educate themselves on the situation in Iraq, or any other controversial issue for that matter, the plethora of information represented by tainted sources would leave any one fed-up.
The practice of scripted interviews should not only be frowned upon and discouraged, but completely abolished.
Maya Debbaneh is a fourth-year political science major. She can be reached at email@example.com.