- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
The first episode of Julian Assange’s new TV show, The World Tomorrow, premiered on RT today with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as the first guest. Aside from a quick intro and a goofy theme song by M.I.A., it’s a pretty spartan affair, consisting solely of Assange and his translators speaking with Nasrallah over skype. The newsiest quote was probably Nasrallah’s fairly staunch defense of Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on protesters:
From the beginning of the events in Syria, we’ve had constant contact with the Syrian leadership. We’e spoken as friends, giving each other advice about the importance of carrying out reforms. Right from the beginning, I personally found that President Assad was very willing to carry out radical reforms. This used to reassure us regarding the positions that we took.[…]
We contacted even elements of the opposition to encourage them and to facilitate the process of dialogue with the regime. These parties rejectged dialoguel. Right from the beginning we’ve had a regime that is willing to undergo reforms and open to dialogue. On the other side, you have an opposition that is not prepared for dialogue and is not prepared to accept any reforms. All it wants is to bring down the regime.
The house-arrested Assange is a fairly generous interviewer by cable news standards, letting his guest do most of the talking. The questions were mostly softballs along the lines of "What was your earliest memory as a boy?," "How did you manage to keep your people together under enemy fire?" and "Why do you think the United States government is so scared of [Hezbollah satellite network] al-Manar?
Things got a bit odd with Assange’s last question, in which he asked the reglious extremist, "Isn’t Allah, or the notion of God, the ultimate superpower? Shouldn’t you as a freedom fighter also seek to liberate people from the totalitarian concept of a monotheistic god?" Not surprisingly, Nasrallah didn’t buy the premise of the question.
It wasn’t the most penetrating interview — interestingly, there was only one question about the contents of a WikiLeaks cable and Nasrallah denied the veracity of it — but that’s probably why Nasrallah was willing to talk with him in the first place. (According to Assange, this was his first interview with "western" media since the 2006 war with Israel.) If he can keep getting the kind of high-profile guests who would never go near a mainstream journalist with a ten-foot poll, the show will probably continue to be worth watching.
Who would you like to see sit down with Assange next?