Yesterday, CNN, America’s self-proclaimed choice for balanced news, aired a segment with Dennis Rodman and Charles Smith, along with the rest of the former NBA players who joined Dennis to play an Exhibition game against a team of North Koreans to commemorate Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s 31st birthday. In the grand scheme of things, this is not a story of consequence…at least not at this time. However, in what passes for news these days, CNN, thought it was a good idea for anchor Chris Cuomo to talk to Smith and Rodman, ostensibly about the basketball game, but in reality, most pointedly about Kenneth Bae.
Mr. Bae was born in South Korea; he immigrated to the United States at age 16, and now finds himself serving time in a North Korean prison camp. The North Korean Government sentenced him to serve 15 years hard labor for committing “hostile acts” against the state.
Early in the interview, Charles Smith, a former member of the New York Knicks, seemed to have been acting in the capacity of designated spokesperson. Although Smith’s clearly delineated talking points centered on basketball, it was equally apparent that Mr. Cuomo intended to steer the conversation to ward Mr. Bae. To more laser-focused his questions were on Bae, the more insistent, and eventually incensed, Rodman became. His reaction eventually devolved into what USA Today labeled in one headline as, “a complete meltdown,” and what CNN referred to in another as, “Dennis Rodman’s Bizarre Rant.”
Certain elements of the news media have equated Rodman’s curious relationship with the North Korean Leader as a form of nascent diplomacy, all the while mocking the former NBA star. Why would CNN attempt to interview Dennis Rodman on a subject as serious and as sensitive as the Kenneth Bae situation? Could anyone, especially an experienced journalist, and/or a trusted media apparatus, realistically expect the combustible Rodman to engage sanguinely on a topic about which the interviewer challenges his very motives? Say what?
Let’s be clear, CNN, and any other news outlet has every right to interview Mr. Rodman, or whomever else it may choose, and for whatever reason. However, it seems a bit incongruous, if not an absolute stretch, for outlets far and near to blow-up the interview as though the histrionics were shockingly unexpected, and that they really anticipated a serious and perhaps even understated news event.
Members of Mr. Bae’s family are reportedly angry with Rodman. They believe his comments are outrageous, and that he should use his connections to Kim Jong-un to petition for the release of their relative.
Suffice it to say, Rodman’s reputation precedes him. He is certainly someone about whom most can/would say, “you know what you’re gonna get,” when you are dealing with him. So when a distinguished anchor for “America’s most trusted news source” interviews him…well, what do you think he expected? Ambassador Rodman: Really?
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