Fly on the Wall: A Monkey, A Flamingo and the Ukraine Conflict

That is the newest in Honest Observer’s collection of fictional dialogues supposed to make sense of the underside of the information. This imaginary dialog unlocks one of many secrets and techniques of company media information.

INT. NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE, MANHATTAN, NYC – DAY

Lester Holt is NBC’s celebrated anchor of “Nightly Information with Lester Holt “, in addition to the two-year outdated hit, “Nightly Information with Lester Holt: The Children Version”.

As one reviewer opines, “Even when the world appears to have been taken over by madness, Lester is calm, delivering the information with honesty and integrity.”

Mr. Holt has agreed to an interview with with Invoice Smedley, an impartial journalist who’s intrigued concerning the historic analysis that underpinned a section for youths on the background to the Ukraine battle.

Quiet at this hour. SMEDLEY and LESTER HOLT seated in a sales space behind the cafe.

SMEDLEY

Thanks for giving me the time right here, I actually admire it.

HOLT

No downside.

SMEDLEY

Okay, so we spoke earlier within the week concerning the matter, so I assume we are able to get proper into it.

HOLT

Positive.

SMEDLEY

“‘The Nightly Information with Lester Holt: The Children Version”. It’s such an awesome concept, and it was your brainchild, proper?

HOLT

No, by no means. A couple of of us — manufacturing folks, writers, we had been sitting round after a broadcast and simply out of the blue we’re speaking about how nice it could be if children had their very own information present. That’s the way it began, and from there it was like — Nicely, there’s this entire huge world on the market that don’t know something about and we are able to introduce them to it, we are able to excite them, assist them to grasp and take into consideration the world… make it much less complicated, we hope, and clearly present how a lot enjoyable it may be, how inspiring. And the nice factor, the nice factor is that every part we cowl, most of it anyway, comes from children submitting video questions.

SMEDLEY

Numerous animals.

HOLT

Oh God, sure, a highly regarded characteristic with the children.

SMEDLEY

Whales, sharks, canines, cats–

HOLT

Yeah, yeah…

SMEDLEY

— Horses, child elephants, hippos, kangaroos…

HOLT

amused)Yeah, nicely, the requests preserve pouring in from the children, so possibly we’ll get round to overlaying every part that walks, swims, crawls, slithers… The A to Z.

SMEDLEY

Nice, nice. And the Children Version premiered when?

HOLT

2020. April. And it’s been an awesome two years, very gratifying.

SMEDLEY

You realize, I’ve all the time had this factor about flamingos, and I seen {that a} child, I believe a boy, submitted a video query: Why are flamingos pink and white? Nicely, I didn’t know, and I wished to know as a result of I really like flamingos however by no means puzzled about it myself as a child…

HOLT

Yeah..

SMEDLEY

And it was within the episode concerning the Ukraine Conflict, which I checked out carefully — and I missed the half concerning the flamingos.

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HOLT

Monkey, not a flamingo.

SMEDLEY

Monkey?

HOLT

A cotton-eared marmalot from Brazil. They’re very small and one thing very particular about them, their faces, very human. Acquired an awesome response from the children. However yeah, it was the monkey and the Ukraine Conflict, not the flamingo and why they’re pink and white. Eight-year-old lady’s query, really. I’m fairly positive, not a boy. After which the subject of the day was, What’s a midterm election?

SMEDLEY

Ah, okay, I obtained them confused.

HOLT

(Smiles). You most likely need to discuss concerning the monkey — I imply, the Ukraine Conflict.

SMEDLEY

Proper. Sure.

HOLT

Nicely, that was a tough one to deal with — Tips on how to get into one thing this horrible with children. However we felt we had an obligation as a result of it’s inevitable, proper? They hear bits and items of it and it’s scary, so the least we may do on the Children Version, we determined, is to offer them a primary understanding of what’s happening and the way the usis making an attempt to assist the folks of Ukraine. And if the children knew that,the essential details, then possibly the entire thing would appear rather less complicated and never so scary.

SMEDLEY

That’s nice, so you may have Michael Beschloss, MSNBC’s– what, official historian, I assume, proper?

HOLT

Michael’s an awesome man and one in every of America’s hottest historians. We’re very fortunate to have him right here at MSNBC.

SMEDLEY

Positive. And earlier than he comes on– I imply, earlier than you introduce him — you clarify a pair issues they need to find out about Ukraine, prefer it’s a neighbor to Russia, they share a gone, not so good, and it’s smaller than Texas.

HOLT

Ukraine is smaller than Texas.

SMEDLEY

Proper, smaller than Texas, however quite a lot of nations are smaller than Texas.

HOLT

(laughs) Proper, proper. However it’s vital for youths to know the place it’s, that they will discover it on a map, or discover any nation on the map, it’s simply vital to know, to open their eyes as much as the world.

SMEDLEY

Completely.

HOLT

And it was essential for youths to know the way laborious we’ve tried — the U.S. has– and Michael explains this fantastically– to persuade the Russians that they need to work out no matter variations they’ve with Ukraine peacefully, as a result of peace is all the time higher than battle. However Russia’s by no means been taken with peace or dialogue or diplomacy, and definitely not with regards to Ukraine.

SMEDLEY

Nicely, there are political scientists, students, internationally identified and revered — like John Mearsheimer, hell, even Henry Kissinger — who disagree with Mr. Beschloss on that time, and I’m assuming your views mirror these of Mr. Beschloss. Am I — I imply is that truthful to say? Assuming an excessive amount of?

HOLT

Nicely, I’m a journalist and as a journalist I take care of details, and Michael is one in every of America’s hottest, well-known historians, and sure, he’s MSNBC’s historian, so —

SMEDLEY

He’s your go-to historian.

HOLT

I don’t know if I’d put it that manner, however sure.

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SMEDLEY

Nice, so quoting him right here, if I can, “The chief of Russia, Vladimer Putin, has all the time been uncomfortable with the truth that Ukraine cut up off from him, and he worries that Ukraine could be very hostile to him, and he wish to create a grand Russia that could be very highly effective, and Ukraine to be part of it.”

HOLT

And with out NATO, what would Europe do, what would the world do, as a result of if he takes Ukraine, he’ll simply preserve going, transferring throughout Europe?

SMEDLEY

Positive, positive, that’s a degree you make within the section. So, uh.. “One of many issues we all the time attempt to–” — I’m persevering with right here with Mr. Beshloss, if that’s okay.

HOLT

Please do.

SMEDLEY

“So one of many issues we all the time attempt to do is to maintain the world out of battle if we probably can, and that’s what President Biden is making an attempt to do now.”

HOLT

Nicely, was making an attempt to do. The Children Version aired earlier than Putin invaded on — nicely, the identical night time, really, however we’d shot the section the day earlier than.

SMEDLEY

Wow.

HOLT

Wow is true.

SMEDLEY

Okay, so, um,, so Beschloss goes on to say that we… “We People obey sure ethical values, and one of many extra principled ones is, after we see a powerful nation making an attempt to take over a weak nation by power, we attempt to forestall that from taking place.”

HOLT

Completely.

SMEDLEY

Completely, sure, so how does, as an illustration, Iraq and Afghanistan match into this entire factor, as a result of it raises some questions, don’t you suppose, about–

HOLT

By no means. No. I imply, yeah, they proved to be horrible errors, horrible, in so some ways, and I believe that– nicely, on the very least, they’re tactical blunders we remorse having made.

SMEDLEY

Positive, okay, however nonetheless we’re speaking about a few invasions, you would name them violations of nationwide sovereignty, with quite a lot of… quite a lot of penalties. So ought to they be thought-about horrible errors or tactical blunders, or each?

HOLT

(checks his watch) We had been speaking about The Children Version, the Ukraine Conflict, The Russians– and we’re getting off monitor somewhat, don’t you suppose?

SMEDLEY

Sorry. So again to Beschloss, and what I believe is — sure, his final remark, “If we noticed that Ukraine was being invaded and that the Russians had been making an attempt to overcome them, our perspective could be {that a} huge nation mustn’t oppress a small nation subsequent door, and we must always do one thing about it.”

HOLT

Nicely, we’re. It’s going to be an extended battle, a really, very painful one.

SMEDLEY

Proper. So about eight years in the past, Putin seems subsequent door to his neighbor, Ukraine, and he sees NATO troops coaching troopers, yr after yr, and weapons pouring in, and he’s not too completely satisfied about it as a result of he sees this as an existential risk, the best way we checked out Cuba in 1962. And since 1997, NATO retains transferring nearer and nearer to Russia’s border, and for simply as lengthy he’s been warning, “That is our purple line, That is our purple line, That is our –,” yr after yr, over 20 years, however we don’t pay attention or don’t need to pay attention, we don’t care about his considerations, we don’t care if he’s —

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HOLT

I’ve to interrupt right here, I’m sorry, please don’t take it personally, however you’re making Putin’s case for him, you recognize that?

SMEDLEY

Proper.

HOLT

Proper?

SMEDLEY

If that is how Putin sees it, or how he claims to see it, then it’s a story, or a chunk of it, that historians have to think about and weigh in opposition to different details earlier than they formulate their very own, one which they suppose is smart, that’s all I used to be making an attempt —

HOLT

Nicely, the nation’s had this debate about what the details are. We’ve had it.

SMEDLEY

We have now?

HOLT

Each night time on the information.

SMEDLEY

I assume… I missed it.

HOLT

(checks his watch once more) I believe…

SMEDLEY

Positive, the time. The purpose is simply that the children didn’t get a lot to consider, did they? That was one of many important motives behind the Children Version, you stated. To open the world up for them to see and take into consideration. However with Ukraine, not that a lot. It was defined to them — like a Marmalot monkey has a human face and lives in Brazil or why a flamingo is–

HOLT

Mr. Smedley, please, these are children. Train them to grasp issues, to suppose — sure. However we’re speaking about Ukraine, which is way too difficult for youths, so we’ve got to simplify it for them, deliver it all the way down to fundamentals.

SMEDLEY

Nicely, once more, that’s what you imply by fundamentals — not giving them something to consider.

HOLT

(rising extra irritated) They’re KIDS!

SMEDLEY

And Ukraine could be very difficult, however by “uncomplicating” it, you’re not inviting them to suppose — you’re simply telling them — on this case, Mr. Beschloss is: “that is sufficient, children, that is all that you must find out about Ukraine”… which is just about what he tells your Nightly Information viewers as nicely, isn’t it?

HOLT

That would come with me.

SMEDLEY

Embody you in…?

HOLT

What you’re suggesting is — it quantities to indoctrination.

SMEDLEY

Propaganda?

HOLT

I believe we’re finished right here.

SMEDLEY

Mr. Holt, I’m sorry should you suppose — If we may finish the interview on, I assume, a pleasing notice? A really fast query, a really fast two-parter that has to do largely with animals.

HOLT

Attempt me.

SMEDLEY

It’s the flamingo — I nonetheless don’t know why it’s pink and white… And the second a part of the query is, what do you concentrate on the 2014 US-backed coup in Kiev?

HOLT

This time we’re finished.

SMEDLEY

Thanks.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Honest Observer’s editorial coverage.