Searching for more proof that celebrity Beltway journalists enjoy warm, friendly relations with Republican presidential hopefuls? Look no further than last week's cozy sit-down between NBC News anchor Brian Williams and GOP front-runner Rudy Giuliani.[..]
I watched the Giuliani interview last week and was busy taking notes when I wasn't picking my jaw up off the floor. That was partly because of the forced, old-friend vibe that permeated the interview, but mostly because Williams never asked Giuliani a single uncomfortable question. The treatment stood in stark contrast to the relentless and often factually challenged grilling Williams and his NBC News colleague Tim Russert unleashed on the Democratic front-runner at the Philadelphia debate two weeks ago. Not to mention the type of loaded, contentious questions Williams posed to Democrats when he moderated their debate (solo) in South Carolina in April.
Sitting down with Giuliani though, Williams suddenly lost his edge and was content with lobbing vague questions, refraining from meaningful follow-ups, and allowing Giuliani to attack Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at length for being on "the defensive" in fighting the war on terror and for promoting "higher taxes for the whole country."[..]
Williams, a regular Rush Limbaugh listener, had 30 minutes to ask the candidate any questions he wanted. It's instructive to examine the questions Williams did, and did not ask, Giuliani.
Williams' first topic of discussion was about baseball, specifically why Giuliani, as a lifelong New York Yankees fan, would publicly announce, while campaigning in New England, that he was going to root for the Yankees' bitter rivals, the Boston Red Sox, in the World Series. But the way Williams raised the topic made it plain that he thought the issue was silly, and the query served more as an icebreaker than a serious question about perhaps the campaign season's most blatant bout of pandering. And that's why Giuliani responded to Williams' soft question with a hearty laugh.
How did Williams signal the trivial intent of the question? He began the query with a serious tone and expression by referring to a "tragic day for most New Yorkers," but then quickly revealed that the "tragic day" was in reference to the fact that former New York Yankees skipper Joe Torre had just accepted a job with the Los Angeles Dodgers. (That segued into the Yankees/Red Sox question.)
Get it?! The "tragic day" wasn't a reference to the terrorist attacks of September 11, because Williams flipped the script and turned it into a baseball question. And that's what made Giuliani laugh. Priceless.