2001-11-03 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

In journalistic parlance, an interview with somebody who is usually inaccessible to journalists is called a "Get." The President is obviously a "Get," as are many national leaders and rock stars.

Today’s journalistic network "stars" all want to interview Osama bin Laden. He is the biggest "Get" of all. The networks are all working behind the scenes, spending tens of thousands of dollars, expanding psychic currency, just to get an on-screen interview with the man who just slaughtered thousands of their countrymen (and, women).

It was not always so.

Edward R. Murrow is considered by most observers to be the quintessential newsperson, the model for all future journalists to emulate.

Murrow and his "boys," notable journalists such as Robert Trout and others who became the backbone of CBS News for the next two decades, reported during World War II. Morrow’s famous "This is London Calling," reports during the blitz have become the template for war reporting. His "See It Now," show about McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Commission helped to terminate the Senator’s own UN-American activities.

Can you imagine what would have happened if Murrow was operating under today’s conditions and he wanted to "Get" Adolph Hitler.

In the context of the 1940’s that would have been considered an outlandish idea, but in today’s context, it is no different that "Getting" bin Ladin.

Picture what an interview with Hitler sometime in early 1943 might have been like:

Morrow: Mr. Hitler, can you tell us why you attacked Poland to start this war? Tell us about your war aims?

Hitler: Well, Ed, you really know the answer to those questions. I didn’t start the war. Polish forces attacked my border troops first and then the Jews burned down the Reichstag, and after that, what choice did I have? My aims are simple. I want land for Germany to grow and restore the greatness that the Jews and other money-grubbing capitalists took from Germany after the Great War. We just want our land back and a little breathing room. Nobody who agrees with what we are trying to do has anything to fear from us.

Morrow: You have taken some criticism for the Jewish question. How would you respond to those who say that you are committing genocide?

Hitler: You know how these rumors get started. We jailed a few Jews and Catholic priests and some others who were trying to sabotage our 1,000-Year-Reich. They were criminals and we dealt with them as criminals. The majority of the Jews were relocated because we were afraid that they would sabotage us, just as you resettled your Japanese citizens. The Jews are in interment camps, happily working for the war effort. When the war is over, they will be reeducated to serve Germany and sent back home. The rumors that we are killing Jews by the millions are, of course, laughable. We are a civilized nation of laws, just as you are.

Murrow: I’m glad you cleared that up, Mr. Hitler. We were worried about that. It is clear that the allies will soon attack "Fortress Europe," as you call it. Our understanding is that the attack will come soon. How will you defend the beaches or Normandy when the attack comes?

Hitler: Well, Ed, we weren’t sure that the attack was coming at Normandy, but I’m glad that you let me know in advance. That will make it a little easier to defend Europe from the capitalist Jewish-led forces that oppose us. You do know that Roosevelt is a Jew, don’t you? Of course, we will have no problem defending our homes, because we are in the right, Your Jewish leadership started this war and now they want to finish us off because we tell the truth about you. We will destroy you, and it is your fault. If you had not defended England from us, this would not have happened, and I am glad that you are giving me a chance to tell the American people the truth about this. All they got up to now was Jewish propaganda and lies.

Murrow: Well, Mr. Hitler, we try and tell the truth to Americans and we want them to get a fair and unbiased picture of what is going on, so I am glad that you have spoken with us. I am not sure that I agree with you, but I will defend your right to be heard.

Hitler: Thank you for allowing me to speak. The proof of what I say can be found in the fact that there were no Jews at Pearl Harbor. They were all warned by the leaders to go back to California on December 5. Their leader, Roosevelt, pulled them out. That is our proof.

Murrow: Thank you, and good night.

That interview, of course, did not happen. Murrow would have no more interviewed Hitler, even given the chance, than he would have given up on his attacks on men such as Senator McCarthy.

He had scruples. He was an American first and a journalist second. It is too bad that there are no news people such as Morrow at the networks today. We could sorely use him.

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