David Dimbleby interviews Donald Rumsfeld: Panorama special

The Iraqi crisis has been a much talked about issue for a very long time. The U.N has sent out people to seek out information about the Saddam Hussein regime, and what he was ‘getting up to’. Many arguments and disputes where all over this issue. Countries who where opposed to this where called cowards – maybe they where just sensible. Interviews have been taken, which are about this big issue.

David Dimbleby interviewed Donald Rumsfeld – The ministry of defence for the U.S.A. From this interview I am able to examine how the media works around this issue.

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The first I noticed was the setting in which this interview was in. It looked very homely, but at the same time, quite professional. In the background I could see a number of nations flags; including an American flag. As there is a series of flags in the setting, this must mean that it is quite a professional area – as you probably wouldn’t find a series of flags in some ones home. Behind where the two people where sitting there was a few ornaments. This gave it a homely touch, which in turn gives it a relaxed scene.

In this interview there wasn’t any live audience. This could possibly mean that the interview was pre recorded, and that parts could have been edited. Editing is a huge advantage for the media. It allows people to cut certain parts out of the tape – which either they don’t wont or that something went wrong. As media coverage is getting better and better, the complex world of editing is too. The skill level of this is very high, as they are able to make it flow but could take anything they wanted out of the tape, e.g. they could turn a full timed football match into 10 minutes long and it would run very smoothly.

This setting makes the actual interview very laid back. There isn’t an audience, so no tricky questions can be brought up by them, it has a homely aspect to it, which will make them both feel more relaxed and ‘feel more at home’.

The setting and criteria to do with the setting would have been pre determined by a terms and condition before the actual interview took off. Again this is good for the media as it has total control of what happens, and how the information will be portrayed and hopefully taken by the viewing audience.

As well as the setting being a major part in this interview, the actual interviewing plays an even bigger part. Dimbleby tend to be very cunning and waits for the perfect moment to attack on the interviewee, giving them tricky and potential slippery questions. He brings up the point, ‘But didn’t America sell weapons to Iraq?’ This point is a very good one, as it makes the American spokesman to become under pressure. However, Rumsfeld does deal with this pressure very well, and controls the debate to his willingness. If Rumsfeld doesn’t want to answer a question, he avoids them, only half answering question. This could be a problem as it allows Dimbleby to provoke Rumsfeld even more.

It could be possible that before the interview terms and conditions were signed so that Dimbleby may not have been allowed to ask what he liked. This would have meant that Rumsfeld had the opportunity to control the debate exactly how he wanted to. Also it would have been a good way to perform propaganda on the Iraqi crisis, and to make America look better in the eyes of the Europeans – which is, I feel, what the aim of this interview is for Rumsfeld.

Another tricky question that Dimbleby opposes is about Europe not backing America. Rumsfeld replies to this – not quoted – ‘well it wasn’t the whole of Europe that didn’t back the U.N plans, it was only a majority.’ Then the follow up question to this was – not quoted – ‘What about the remarks given against France and Germany, isn’t it true that they were called a nation of cowards, and were afraid to fight?’ Then Rumsfeld replies – not quoted – ‘Oh no, we would never day that about fellow nations of the U.N, I have many good friends in those countries, and we have a great relationship with both those countries.’ To me it seems that Rumsfeld’s main objection is to the get the U.S.A back into the good books of Europe again.

As Rumsfeld makes his points, he seems do come across as a bit of a diplomatic, he doesn’t seem to be too sensitive. This could be seen as being slightly arrogant, and if noticed by the viewing audience, people may not want to take what he wants to say.

I also noticed the differences in culture – U.K and U.S.A – with phrases such as, ‘the centre of gravity is shifting’ and ‘It’s not on my lane’. These phrases, I’m quite confident in saying are not used in Britain. As he uses them, it makes him sound very American. By this I mean, that in England, for example, you have really posh people, who speak almost completely different to normal everyday people. However in America, you don’t really get this vast difference – except colloquialism – of the posh or important people to regular everyday people.

As well as using phrases, Rumsfeld also used a lot of gestures to emphasis the points he was trying to make. This is a good idea, as when he moves his hands to make the gestures, it brings the audiences attention to him, as it may catch the audiences’ eye.

As you can see, the difference in culture is very easy to see. However, what ever the differences, these important people are what us everyday citizens rely on. It is important that the media portray them in the right way, however, there is becoming more and more times where important people are using the media to their advantage by using propaganda.

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