You don’t have to be Marshall McLuhan to know that the medium is at least to some degree the message. When someone appears on television, he or she is transformed by the camera into something other than they are. Of course this is true of other media, but television and film take it to another level. In a sense they sexualize their subjects while simultaneously adding charisma and denuding them of threat. Everything is reduced to a kind of pre-teen erotic banality in the great Larry Kingness of it all. Just being on is all.
That is why when Mike Wallace – in a monumental act of narcissism – comes out of retirement at 88 to interview Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he is performing a hugely pernicious act by elevating the mad semi-mullah to the “peerage of Sixty Minutes”, practically no matter what Ahmadinjad says or does. And this is no garden variety serial killer the likes of whom appear frequently on such shows and are likely to spend most of their lives in jail. This is the leader of a nation who has or is about to have nuclear weapons while denying the Holocaust and promising to wipe Israel off the map (and who knows what else). The argument that we “learn” from watching Ahmadinejad is of limited importance (and dubious validity) compared to the status awarded him. Thanks to Wallace he becomes yet one more player in the Grand American Media game, right up there with Oprah, Madonna and O’Reilly. Disgusting.
UPDATE: Evidently Wallace, a Jew apparently anxious not to offend his guest, refers to Israel as the “Zionist state.” Of course, we’ve heard this song before.