Who knew that CNN could get so much mileage out of two shoes? After a journalist for a Cairo news agency chucked two shoes at President Bush earlier this week, CNN reporter Zain Verjee tries telling Condoleezza Rice that this proves the US is “loathed” around the world. Rice almost leaps out of her seat to reject that (h/t James of Radio Vice Online):
QUESTION: Staying in Iraq, the shoe-throwing incident, it was really a symbol in so many ways in the Arab world of utter contempt –
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah –
QUESTION: — for President Bush.
SECRETARY RICE: And it was one journalist among several who were sitting there respectfully, and I hope it isn’t allowed over time to obscure the fact that this was the President of the United States standing in Baghdad next to the democratically elected Shia Prime Minister of a multi-confessional Iraq that has just signed agreements of friendship and cooperation with the United States for the long term.
QUESTION: But the man may have been one journalist, but he was viewed throughout much of the Arab world as a real hero.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I –
QUESTION: My question is –
SECRETARY RICE: I have heard so many people –
QUESTION: My question to you is –
SECRETARY RICE: Yes?
QUESTION: — does it bother you that with all the diplomacy that you’ve done, President Bush’s policies, the policies that you’ve carried out –
SECRETARY RICE: Zain –
QUESTION: — that the U.S. is so loathed around the world?
SECRETARY RICE: Zain, the United States is not loathed. The policies of the United States are sometimes not liked. People don’t like that we’ve had to say hard things and do hard things about terrorism. People don’t like that we’ve spoken fiercely for the right of Israel to defend itself at the same time that we’ve advocated for a Palestinian state. But I have to go back. So many people in and around when that incident happened told me how embarrassed they were by the fact that that had happened.
I threw two shoes at my television set after seeing this clip. Does that prove that CNN is loathed around the world, or in the US? No, it doesn’t, although I’d bet dollars to donuts that the comment section in this post will make the case for CNN loathing in the US better than my footwear.
Maybe a better indicator of “loathing” measure would be the reaction of the other journalists at the press conference. Did they attack the dais after the shoes started to fly? No — they attacked the journalist who shied his slippers at Bush. Most of them, even if they don’t like Bush, castigated their colleague for his unprofessionalism.
Here’s one last question for Verjee to answer. Since she uses the reaction of a few thousand Arabs in the streets as credible proof that the world “loathes” the United States, what conclusions does she draw from the millions that screamed for blood after the publication of the Mohammad cartoons in Denmark — that all Danes should get killed? That all journalists should be fair game for attack?