Omar El-Bashir is the ruler of Sudan, one of the most reviled dictators in the world. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell thought it was fair to compare his despotic regime to the John McCain campaign on Wednesday’s edition of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. The subject? Sarah Palin’s round of meetings with foreign leaders in New York. Print reporters and TV producers are often let in to the room at photo-ops for “pool sprays,” where they sometimes shout questions – in this case, probably hoping to draw Gov. Palin into a Bidenesque gaffe of some sort. The McCain campaign tried to keep the questioners out of the room, but the press revolted and threatened to ignore the meetings. This fracas led to Mitchell huffing that this smelled like Khartoum, or Pyongyang. In their truly gargantuan sense of self-importance, making an NBC producer sit outside in a van is comparable to slaughter in Darfur.
Mitchell explained the pool-spray routine to Maddow:
It is standard practice. It’s standard for the White House, for the State Department. And often we are in foreign countries where it is not standard practice, like in Pyongyang or in Damascus, and usually the State Department insists upon it, and then we are at risk for whatever happens. In Sudan, I had the problem in Khartoum with the Sudanese leader, when Condoleezza Rice’s folks said ‘we have to let these people in,’ and in fact we were pushed and shoved and thrown out by the Sudanese. But that’s not by American officials, and certainly not by Republican campaign officials running in a national election here in the United States.
Maddow replied: “I’m proud that’s an American journalistic value. That makes me have patriotic feelings about our freedom of the press.”
Ridiculous. Air America leftists only applaud “patriotism” as a value if it’s employed to embarrass Republicans and smear them as authoritarians. If President Obama is elected, it will be fascinating to watch leftists like Maddow suddenly suspect the press of being impolite destroyers of the president’s idealistic aims if they ask any photo-op questions tougher than a Maria Menounos Access Hollywood softball.