Last night New York's public radio station, WNYC, sponsored a debate on was the American public deliberately misled about pre-war intelligence. Participating were ex-Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fl), David Korn, Washington editor of The Nation, Ann Wedgwood of various Pentagon advisory groups and Christopher Hitchens (yeehaa), columnist for Vanity Fair and the Atlantic.
It was a fascinating debate, less so for the content, which was great, than for the ability to observe the audience. It was held at the Center for Ethical Culture on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It's pretty much in the heart of one of the country's wealthiest and most liberal neighborhoods.
Now I've been to townhall meetings with Mayor Giuliani in Bushwich and Washington Heights and I never saw any measure of real rudeness. Not so last night. It started slowly, but by the end of the evening there were cries of fascist and f-you aimed towards the two pro-war speakers (Wedgwood and Hitchens).
The event was being taped for a radio show. Presumably they'll beep the cursing but the general notion of audience disrespect will remain. I only saw this at Giuliani town halls from specific radically aligned people bent on disrupting the assembly. Last night there were all sorts of folks contributing to the catcalling.
When I left I overheard one matron complaing that the pro-war speakers were condescending. My girlfreind simply said, quite politely, more or less, "So was the audience".
The debate itself was pretty good and valid points were made all around. I still don't think we were lied to but I do think poor interpretations of information were made. But listen for yourself. You can hear it next Wednesday online at 10am EST on http://wnyc.org/