Long-time EA readers will know that we have been somewhat sceptical in the past about the ability of American television journalists to deal with President Ahmadinejad on an up-close and personal basis. Even a supposed front-line interviewer like Charlie Rose of Public Broadcasting Service found himself ill-prepared for Ahmadinejad's deft evasions and diversions. CNN's Larry King, more attuned to interrogation of celebrity scandals, made little impact, and ABC's Christiane Amanpour's highly-promoted meeting with Ahmadinejad proved little more than a PR platform. (See the dissection of Amanpour's effort by our colleague Masih Alinejad.)
Yet all of these appear as heavyweight interviews in comparison with the latest effort, from Ann Curry and NBC.
Curry sat down with Ahmadinejad in Tehran two years ago, soon after his disputed re-election, and her rather inept presentation, complemented by NBC's glitzy self-advertising, gave "Ahmadinejad and the regime far more legitimacy than they have received from other governments, let alone many of the Iranian people".
Well, Curry's back. In preparation for the main interview, she and NBC have presented "the full-ever daily access to the daily schedule of Iran's President Ahmadinejad, drawing back the curtain on one of the world's most controversial and secretive leaders".
Look, he jogs (Rocky-style)! He exercises in the gym! He takes his shoes off in the office --- rather shocking for a Muslim --- but he wears reading glasses! He reads newspapers! He speaks! He should sleep more!
Then we were with him and Ann as the President meets local artisans and residents in Khorasan Province.
Here comes Ann's hard-hitting question: "Mr President, why have you come to one of the poorest parts of Iran to highlight the arts and crafts?"
To which Ahmadinejad replies, "Just slumming. And looking for a cheap deal. You know, a nice carpet for the office where I can put my shoes."
No, not really. He talks about common humanity and values and integrating all the nations together.
Ann's follow-up: "Why do you work so hard?" But Ahmadinejad cannot answer, for he is Superman of the People, off to see "the poor people who are his base".
Ann does drop in a line about rising inflation but this is just a niggle. Soon she is giving the President another penetrating enquiry, "What do you see as the future of Iran?" (He did not say, "Another rigged election.") and promising us --- for the next excitement-filled segment --- "There is a lot to ask him about."
Yep, like whether he wears boxers or briefs.