Hank  Adler

There are two great movie scenes that could have been the teaching platform for the pre-Super Bowl O’Reilly interview of President Obama. The first choice of what viewers may have been hoping for was Tom Cruise’s questioning of witness Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. The second choice was Al Pacino’s brilliant soliloquy highlighting character and false privilege in Scent of a Woman. As to the former, Mr. O’Reilly was not sufficiently nimble and/or had too much respect for the Office of the President to effectively play Tom Cruise to President Obama’s ego and draw out the desired response: “You Can’t Handle the Truth”. As to the latter, Mr. O’Reilly is too professional to lecture the President that his fantasy world responses to questions about his administration only enables his appointees to keep the truth from the American public.

The tragedy in all of this is the misdirection by the President. When the President of the United States is highly non-transparent and provides answers to any reporter's questions that are, at best, pure spin, the nation is harmed. When the President sees an interview with Bill O'Reilly as a contest rather than an opportunity to increase the transparency of government, the nation is harmed.

A Few Good Men

In A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson plays the role of a Marine general (Captain Jessup) who is fully aware that his subordinates committed a heinous crime as the result of his encouraging them to ignore a direct order from the Commandant of the Marines. Captain Jessup is placed on the witness stand and treats the young lawyer facing him, Lt. Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise), dismissively. Captain Jessup knows that Kaffee could never unearth the truth and that if found challenging a senior Marine officer, Kaffee could be harshly penalized. Kaffee manages to play to Jessup’s ego by listening to his precise answers and ultimately traps Jessup in his own words. At that point, Jessup explodes with the famous quote “You Can’t Handle the Truth” and as he loses his composure, explains that he is both responsible for the heinous act and undaunted by that act because of the underlying benefits to the Marine Corps. The ends of protecting the culture justified the means of the heinous act. This is perhaps what we hoped to see before the Super Bowl.

The Merriman-Webster dictionary first definition of ‘corruption’ is as follows:

dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers)


Hank Adler

Hank Adler is an Assistant Professor at Chapman University.

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