This Sunday morning (Valentine's Day, 2010), Jonathan Karl auditioned to replace George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Sunday morning show, This Week. Karl's exclusive "get" for his host debut was former Vice President Dick Cheney, who Karl last interviewed on December 16, 2008 - a month before Barack Obama took the helm as President and Joe Biden replaced Mr. Cheney.
In that unremarkable December 16th interview, Jonathan Karl never once mentioned the myriad Constitutional scholars and legal experts vociferously accusing Cheney of impeachable criminal offenses. Karl never mentioned the accusations of Cheney's involvement in Extraordinary Renditions in which kidnapped individuals were hauled off to secret prisons and tortured without mercy. Karl never mentioned accusations of Cheney thwarting Americans' rights to privacy through illegal wiretaps. Karl never mentioned Cheney's unprecedented executive power, his penchant for secrecy, and his lies and distortions that led to the Iraq War.
Karl did ask Dick Cheney if he considered water-boarding to be torture, but accepted Cheney's simple 'no' without a single follow-up question. From the beginning of that December '08 interview to its end, Jonathan Karl, like all corporate 'journalists' before him, merely acquiesced to Mr. Cheney.
Here's the video of Karl's '08 interview with Dick Cheney:
Unfortunately, little has changed in the dynamic between Jonathan Karl and Dick Cheney since that unremarkable interview on December 16, 2008. This was proven by their equally unremarkable Valentine's Day encounter in which Dick still Jon's boss and Jon is still Dick's runner.
In today's Valentine's interview, Jon Karl again had the opportunity to become the first journalist to publicly and directly confront Dick Cheney on his crimes, and once again he failed to do so. Like his prior interview in 2008, Karl never once mentioned the myriad legal scholars and Constitutional experts who accuse Dick Cheney of crimes and misdemeanors that rise to the level of treason.
In today's reunion, Karl could have gained some journalistic 'cred' by quoting from the June 27, 2007 article in Slate Magazine by Constitutional expert and former Ronald Reagan Deputy Attorney General, Bruce Fein, titled Impeach Cheney, which listed several of the Vice President's improprieties - but Karl didn't.
Here's an excerpt from Bruce Fein's article:
"The vice president [Cheney] initiated kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture in Eastern European prisons of suspected international terrorists. This lawlessness has been answered in Germany and Italy with criminal charges against CIA operatives or agents. The legal precedent set by Cheney would justify a decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to kidnap American tourists in Paris and to dispatch them to dungeons in Belarus if they were suspected of Chechen sympathies."
Karl could have quoted from a more recent April, 2009 post by respected Law Professor and Constitutional scholar, Jonathan Turley, that stated:
"After refusing to release even unclassified materials as Vice President, former Vice President Dick Cheney is now calling for the release of all interrogation reports to show that torture works. This is the same Cheney who supported the denial of such evidence to courts and criminal defendants and Congress. However, now that calls for prosecution for war crimes are increasing, Cheney suddenly believes in transparency in government."
But Karl didn't.
Like every other corporate-controlled 'journalist' who's ever interviewed Cheney, Karl never once confronted the former VP on the accusations of criminal and un-Constitutional acts that have been widely lodged against him. Not a single mention was made of the 35 Articles of Impeachment against the Bush administration introduced on June 9, 2008 on the Floor of the House by Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich.
Karl could have - but he didn't.
Instead he again gave Cheney a platform to retool his credibility and extol the virtues of his Vice Presidency. Karl even went so far as to lob a softball at Cheney to humanize him on an issue the Progressive community has long supported - overturning the military policy of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' When asked if Cheney, a former Secretary of Defense, would end 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' Cheney replied:
"Twenty years ago, the military were strong advocates of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' when I was Secretary of Defense. I think things have changed significantly since then."
Karl was clearly aware of Cheney's sensitivity to gay and lesbian issues since Cheney has spoken often of his lesbian daughter. Still, for those who've witnessed Cheney's dispassion for the past eight years, it's not far-fetched to presume were it not for his paternal sensitivity to lesbian matters, he'd be speaking with less equanimity on the issue of equality.
Karl's softballs aside, had he rightfully used this interview to take Cheney to task on specific accusations from experts and scholars, Karl may have achieved a newfound respect as a reporter. But he didn't. Like the corporate hacks before him, Karl towed the corporate line. He was dismissive of the public trust and disparaging of the best traditions of journalism by not digging for the truth.
Nonetheless, to his good fortune, Karl likely did not fail ABC or his mega-employer Disney. They are corporations, after all, and Cheney's a corporate guy.
Click play to view Jon & Dick's Valentine's Day reunion: