Thursday, November 08, 2001

Unexpected Humor

All right, maybe Jim Carrey and Robin Williams aren't losing sleep. But as a former journalism student...

Well, what is a former journalism student? My degree is in journalism (much good has it ever done me), and I still observe those who use that word to describe what they do. Often I would use different words to describe their antics. Occasionally I am impressed: Ashleigh Banfield of MSNBC and Rita Cosby of Fox News have both achieved a much higher profile since the attack, and I've seen neither of them put a foot wrong. The list of those at whom I roll my eyes is too long to recount here.

But for sheer outrageous laughs, you can't beat the daily Department of Defense briefing at the Pentagon. Don't depend on the snippets you get on the evening news: Read the full transcripts. I get the idea that some of these reporters aren't sure what line of work the Department of Defense is in. Fortunately for their egos, the official transcripts do not name the reporters asking the questions.

On November 6, for instance, one reporter asked Secretary Rumsfeld to elaborate on his estimate that the Taliban could be defeated "within months".

It is clearly an estimate. I did not suggest one, two or three months; I said months rather than years. That means it could be as long as 23. (Laughter.) I've got a full range from one or two to 23. And I thought to myself when I was asked that question, I spontaneously responded to the best of my ability and said, Hmm, I'll bet you it's months, not years. Could I be wrong? I suppose. Do I think I am? No. (Laughter.)

Now, I don't know if the reporters are just dim, or accustomed to interviewing people who might challenge the definition of the word "is". But if you're going to ask the Secretary of Defense "Why are we dropping bombs?" you have to know you might get the answer "Because we want to kill them."

That might not be a thigh-slapper where you are, but it made me smile.

(Yes, of course InstaPundit was there first.)

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