“I tried to change the subject [away from reality]”

I assume this lapse in protocol occurred because Peter Jennings was Canadian:

Four years ago, Barbara Walters, who calls Kissinger “the most loyal friend,” was entertaining Kissinger and his wife at a dinner party for a D.C. politician when ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, who died last year, suddenly piped up, “How does it feel to be a war criminal, Henry?”

The subject of Kissinger’s past sins was very much in the air at the time. Judges in both France and Spain were seeking Kissinger for questioning as the long-simmering debate over his connection to Chilean general Augusto Pinochet’s brutal killing of dissidents in the seventies returned with a vengeance…

The question stunned the dinner guests, who included Time Inc. editor Henry Grunwald, who also died last year, and former ABC chairman Thomas Murphy. Grunwald told Jennings the comment was “unsuitable,” but Jennings persisted.

“I tried to change the subject, but it was a very uncomfortable moment,” says Walters. “[Kissinger’s wife] Nancy reacted very strongly and hurt.”

Kissinger said nothing.

What I especially like is the editor of Time, Inc. telling a journalist that asking a powerful figure a question about reality is “unsuitable.” Just imagine that said by hundreds of editors to thousands of reporters (as powerful new executives watch approvingly) and you will understand the U.S. media.

BONUS: Here’s David Broder getting an award at the National Press Club in 1988:

“I can’t for the life of me fathom why any journalists would want to become insiders, when it’s so much fun being outsiders—irreverent, inquisitive, incorrigibly independent outsiders, thumbing our nose at authority and going our own way.”

Broder then added, “I am Anastasia Romanov.”