Okay, ABC "20/20" news team: We got the biggest story of the year out there, terrorists holding a major U.S. city hostage, and it keeps not happening. We got cameras in helicopters, we got cameras in boats, we got satellites, we got Hugh Downs, we got everything we need to cover this story and . . . it keeps not happening.
Let's make it happen.
Think about it, team: How about the terrorists hijack an oil tanker in mid-Atlantic, moor it a couple hundred yards off the World Trade Center and threaten to blow it up?
What's that? Somebody wants to know why our Navy would let a hijacked tanker into New York harbor? For the visuals, baby, all those shots of the Statue of Liberty, the police boats roaring around. Okay, maybe it sounds a little sensationalistic, but we'll have some PBS-type class with Downs doing the voice-over from an Alistair Cooke autograph-model armchair.
And then we'll simulate a crisis center, give a bunch of money to the Georgetown University Center for Strategic and International Studies, and get a bunch of ex-honchos to manage this crisis for us: a blue-ribbon panel of Joseph Sisco, former undersecretary of state; Ron Nessen, former press secretary to President Ford; Robert Neumann, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Mary Crisp, former co-chairperson of the Republican National Committee; Adm. Thomas Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And dozens more -- it'll use up something like half the program just to introduce them all in freeze-frame cameos.
Get them running around in shirt-sleeves, talking to a simulated president on the phone. Okay, maybe a lot of people are going to want a disaster movie cast -- Burt Lancaster grimacing across New York harbor, some foxy gasps from Angie Dickinson -- but this is the real thing we're talking about.
Let's simulate the crisis, but let's accuse real people of causing it. And why pick on the IRA or the Japanese Red Army of Croatian or Puerto Rican nationalists or Montoneros or South Moluccans when you can use everybody's favorite bogymen, the Palestinians?
We'll have them demand an autonomous West Bank state, and hint that the terrorists might be Turkish Islamic revolutionaries, too -- aren't they all on the same side, those Moslems?
Did somebody complain that all we're doing is giving terrorists publicity? Terrorism is a media event, right? That's the whole purpose, right? Who are we to fail to live up to our part of the bargain? After all, didn't Walter Laqueur, the man who wrote "Terrorism," say that "terrorism always engenders grossly exaggerated notions about its effectiveness"? Let's get out there and exaggerate, team. After all, our very own Secretary of State Haig has said that terrorism is our No. 1 foreign-policy priority.
Didn't another terrorism expert, Michael Ledeen of the Washington Quarterly, say in April: "At the moment, domestically, there is no problem to cope with"?
Exactly! If you want to get the job done, do it yourself, team. And just in case somebody starts thinking it's just a low-rent rip-off of a worn out disaster movie formula, leths stop the program with the president deciding whether to attack or negotiate, and leave it up to the viewers. Isn't that what objectivity is all about? Channel 7, 10 p.m. Go team!