I attended President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's press conference at the National Press Club yesterday. I arrived early and sat in the front row in an attempt to submit a question to the moderator, Buffalo News' Jerry Zremski, who accepted potential questions on note cards. Sadly, my question didn't make the cut.
My question was: What's being done to locate missing American Robert Levinson who was last seen March 8th, 2007 on Kish Island off the southern coast of Iran?
Mr. Levinson's wife, Christine, has been petitioning the Iranian govt thru our State Dept's diplomatic channels for assistance or information regarding the whereabouts of the father of seven. So far, little has been done to help her cause and Mr. Ahmadinejad was unwilling to meet with her in New York to discuss this important case.
But here's an interesting thing - Mr. Ahmadinejad was the first ever "video conference" guest in the National Press Club's 100-year history. And while there has been much hoopla over Columbia University's controversial invitation to allow Ahmadinejad to speak there, at least Columbia President Lee Bollinger was willing to call the "petty and cruel dictator" for what he truly is.
So I have to wonder why NPC chose to accommodate Mr. Ahmadinejad as their first video conference guest - and then treated him with far kinder handling than the reception he got from Bollinger?
Perhaps, we in the media could stand to be a little more courageous in challenging the preposterous statements and facts of Mr. Ahmadinejad's rule.