Richard Armitage was the 13th United States Deputy Secretary of State, serving from 2001 to 2005. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and then after the fall of Saigon moved to Washington D.C. to work as a consultant for the United States Department of Defense, which sent him to Tehran and Bangkok.
Throughout the late 70s and early 80s, Armitage worked as an aide and foreign policy advisor to politicians including Senator Bob Dole and President-elect Ronald Reagan. When Reagan was elected, Armitage was appointed to the Department of Defense. In the 1990s, Armitage worked in the private sector before being confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State with the election of George W. Bush in 2001. He left the post in 2005.
Armitage was educated at the United States Naval Academy. He is an avid bodybuilder, and speaks many languages, including Vietnamese.
Question: Has the media been helpful in improving the public discourse?
Armitage: I think it was very unhelpful following 9/11 because I think they stepped away from their traditional role of oversight. Any Executive branch, in my view, which doesn’t have a strong oversight from Congress and the strong checking of our free press will go off the tracks. Anyone – Democrat, Republican, third party. So our system demands this tension, and I would say that members of the press were primarily AWOL for a couple of years. They’ve come back now. Now an administration or any administration which depends on the press for spinning to get their message out should not, then, be upset if the press doesn’t entirely buy the spin, or is somewhat critical of you. And I think there’s a lot of time spent damning the press and denigrating the press when they’re actually used to doing their own job. In other words you can’t depend on them to be spun and then be angry with them when they’re . . . you know when they’re being somewhat critical. You can’t have it both ways.