Sunday on “60 Minutes,” Norah O’Donnell did a piece onboard the USS Nimitz, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. While there, she spoke with Admiral Sam Paparo, who is in charge of the US Pacific Fleet, about what the Navy would do if China attacked Taiwan. He replied:
It’s a decision of the president of the United States and a decision of the Congress. It’s our duty to be ready for that. But the bulk of the United States Navy will be deployed rapidly to the Western Pacific to come to the aid of Taiwan if the order comes to aid Taiwan in thwarting that invasion.
In other words, exactly what you’d expect him to say. Then O’Donnell followed up: “Is the U.S. Navy ready?”
That’s a remarkably dumb question. What are the chances the man overseeing all naval operations in that part of the world would answer, “No, we’re not ready, so I sure hope the Chinese don’t make a move until at least the middle of June!”
Later, O’Donnell asked Lt. Commander David Ash, “Do you get briefed on China’s growing military threat and the progress that their navy is making?”
Again, idiotic question. Does O’Donnell think there’s a possibility that the top US naval officers in that part of the world aren’t told what China’s up to? That somehow it’s kept a secret by a guy at the Pentagon who orders his staff not to pass along important intel to anyone on a ship?
Look, I get it. O’Donnell was all excited that she’d been given permission to report from the Nimitz. In addition to her access to the top personnel, she also got to show footage of naval aviators taking off from and landing on the deck of the ship, as if she was making the next “Top Gun” sequel. And she showed a nuclear-powered submarine, too. Cool. In that position, any journalist would be careful about stepping on toes by pressing too hard in interviews. But these were the softest “news” interviews I’ve seen in a long time.
I can’t resist quoting one more ridiculous query O’Donnell posed to Paparo: “Is it your hope that the power of the US Navy, the force posture of the US Navy, will deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan?”
Perhaps O’Donnell was secretly hoping the admiral would reply with something outrageous that would make her reporting go viral:
No, I hope it doesn’t serve as a deterrent. I’d like to get involved in a major naval and air battle with them. That would sure be fun. My boys and girls are tired of training and rehearsing but never getting to shoot anything down except balloons. Let’s lock and load against those commie bastards! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch “Dr. Strangelove” again.