60 Minutes traveled to Tehran for an interview with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani last week (whole thing and a little more here). Steve Kroft conducted the interview. Among other things, Kroft joined President Obama in defaming the American opponents of the deal with Iran. This is part and parcel of the operation of CBS News as an arm of the Democratic Party (see, e.g., Sharyl Attkisson’s invaluable memoir Stonewalled). David Rhodes is the president of CBS News and the brother of Obama national security adviser Ben Rhodes.
But it is worse than that. There is a long and dishonorable tradition of Western media toadying to tyrants, butchers, and enemies. In the annals of such toadying, Kroft must have tied the low last night. These are the utterly pitiful questions this supposedly hard-hitting journalist asked Rouhani:
Steve Kroft: What do you think of the agreement?
Steve Kroft: Were you surprised by the ferocity of the debate in the United States and the outcome?
Steve Kroft: Opponents have argued that U.S. has given away too much for very little in return from Iran. Agreeing to lift the sanctions on Iran in exchange for, what they call, a temporary 15-year freeze on nuclear operations after which Iran would be free to resume or begin work on a nuclear bomb with far more resources than they have now.
Steve Kroft: The United States seems to have its hardliners and Iran seems to have its hardliners. The opponents say essentially that they think Iran has given up too much control over their nuclear program to the U.S. and other foreign countries, and to the IAEA. Do you see similarities between the United States and Iran in terms of the opposition to this?
Steve Kroft: Some of the opponents are very powerful. The commander of the Revolutionary Guards, for example, has condemned the deal. How do you deal with that? That’s an important political force in this country.
Steve Kroft: You have been very temperate in your statements about these negotiations. You have been trying to encourage a sense of goodwill between the United States and Iran, but some of this — some of the success has been undercut by very harsh statements from both sides. Since the deal, the Ayatollah Khamanei has endorsed, even praised, the chanting of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” at the Friday prayers by demonstrators and he continues to call the United States the “great Satan.” Do you believe the United States is the “great Satan?”
Steve Kroft: Do you think the United States is the “great Satan?”
Steve Kroft: I’m sure you realize that it is difficult for many Americans to get past the fact that President Obama has signed an agreement with a country that says, “Death to America, Death to Israel.” How do you explain this? What are they to make of it? Are they to take it literally? Is this for domestic, internal Iranian political consumption? What are Americans to make of it, the language?
Steve Kroft: “Death to America” is very simple concept. Three words, not much room left for interpretation. Not very conciliatory. Do you see the day when that language will not be used? You yourself have encouraged both sides to try and lower the temperature.
Steve Kroft: The United States has just signed an agreement with Iran to lift the sanctions, is that not a sign of goodwill?
Steve Kroft: Do you think the level of trust between Iran and the United States has improved because of this treaty?
Steve Kroft: There has been speculation and hope both inside and outside of Iran and in the United States that this nuclear deal could be a catalyst for some broader, if limited, cooperation between the two countries where there are mutual interests.
Steve Kroft: You have said that you are willing to sit down with any country, friend or enemy, to discuss the situation in Syria in order to stop the bloodshed. What does Iran see as a possible, workable, acceptable solution to the situation in Syria?
Steve Kroft: This agreement was a big political victory for you personally. You were elected president based on the idea that you wanted to open up Iran to the outside world, that you wanted to get the sanctions lifted, that you wanted to bring prosperity back to the country, so Iran can take its place among the great nations of the world and not be isolated. There are still some things in that agenda that are still unfulfilled: freedom of speech, more access to the Internet and personal freedoms.
Steve Kroft: As we sit here speak the– right now, there is a dual American/Iranian citizen, a journalist for the Washington Post, Jason Rezaian, in prison for more than a year on unspecified charges. There has been talk among leaders in the last few weeks that there might be a prisoner exchange. Is there anything you can say to clarify the situation?
Steve Kroft: Would you support a prisoner exchange?
I would say you have to see it to disbelieve it (video below), but this is CBS News and 60 Minutes. You believe it.