And now, for my second Brezhnev reference of the day, here's a quote from an article called "New York is starting to feel like Brezhnev's Moscow: Public debate in America has now become a question of loyalty"
On CNN's domestic news one morning their vacuous presenter Paula Zahn urged viewers to stay with her until after the break. "A new book which criticises American foreign policy and says the US has been guilty of terrorism has sold 160,000 copies. We'll have more," she announced.
Noam Chomsky's book, I wondered. Are they really going to let him appear? No such luck. The offending book was indeed by Chomsky but America's leading dissident was not invited on to the show. Like Soviet television in the 1970s, which regularly put up regime hacks to pillory the two giants of non-conformity, Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, without giving them a say, Ms Zahn's guest was William Bennett, a Republican former cabinet minister. He proceeded to "explain" Chomsky's high sales with a flippant "kooks in our midst" argument. Many Americans were still in deep confusion after the shock of September 11, and some people were prepared to believe anything, he claimed.
Chomsky was unsurprised when I rang him later. "It's typical," he said. "CNN International interviews me a lot, but the US channel doesn't dare." Far from being depressed, Chomsky was in bullish mood. Like an intellectual rock star he is perpetually on the move, travelling to packed auditoria on campuses around the US and abroad. "I spend about an hour every night turning down email requests to speak," he said. He was off to Bogota in Colombia later that day.