Can you find Ukraine on a Map?

I can. Anyone who has played Risk a few times can. But, in his memoir, Never Give an Inch, Mike Pompeo has a rich anecdote of a journalist that could not.

As a member of Congress, I voted multiple times to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the parent group of National Public Radio (NPR). I see no reason for the public to fund a left-wing media outlet, especially when there are so many others. I had also helped force NPR to admit they failed to properly disclose taking money from the Ploughshares Fund—a peacenik organization that lobbied hard in support of the Iran deal. I exposed this journalistic conflict of interest surrounding their Iran coverage—and excoriated them further for refusing to allow me on to rebut Representative Adam Schiff’s false claims about the Iran deal.

With this tumultuous history as a backdrop, I reluctantly agreed to an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. She had promised that our conversation would be limited to Iran. Her interview request said, effectively, “This will give you a chance to say your piece, even if it is years later.” Yet she performed what I saw as a bait and switch, as her unstated intention was to focus on the Yovanovitch story. From its first minutes, her interview dripped with hate for me. I didn’t say anything provocative—the interview generated no real news—but I was furious at her seeming deception.

I departed the set and asked my communications team to have Kelly come to my office. I told her very directly what I thought, using language that my mother would have called inappropriate. She had wasted a chance to inform the American people of our effort to save the lives of Americans, Iranians, and Israelis. She defended her interview by saying that the “Ukraine story” was the most important news facing the American people. I said that very few people in the world could place Ukraine on the map. She kept on, so I had a map of the world brought in that displayed international borders but not the names of countries. I asked her to identify Ukraine. She put a pen mark on Bangladesh. As they used to say on Get Smart, “Missed it by that much.”

My prior expectation is that most journalists would pass this test, but there are geographically challenged people in just about every profession I suppose.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.