NBC Producer Visits University Library, Discusses ISIS

NBC+Producer+Ben+Plesser%2C+joined+by+IPR%27s+Ben+Kieffer+on+stage%2C+answers+questions+submitted+by+the+audience.++
Back to Article
Back to Article

NBC Producer Visits University Library, Discusses ISIS

NBC Producer Ben Plesser, joined by IPR's Ben Kieffer on stage, answers questions submitted by the audience.

NBC Producer Ben Plesser, joined by IPR's Ben Kieffer on stage, answers questions submitted by the audience.

Sofie Lie

NBC Producer Ben Plesser, joined by IPR's Ben Kieffer on stage, answers questions submitted by the audience.

Sofie Lie

Sofie Lie

NBC Producer Ben Plesser, joined by IPR's Ben Kieffer on stage, answers questions submitted by the audience.

Sofie Lie, Online News Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






At Shambaugh Auditorium on Tuesday night, NBC Producer Ben Plesser spoke to a small audience about his experience covering Syria in the past years, a task that he said has become increasingly limited with the expansion of ISIS.

Plesser first spoke about his role in the production of CBS’s 60 Minutes alongside correspondent Clarissa Ward, in which they conducted an interview with a chemistry teacher turned warlord in 2013.  Although Plesser noted that the Jihadi leader they spoke to was not a part of ISIS, he described him as being very similar ideologically.

It was after this confrontational interview that Plesser and Ward fled quickly to the Turkish border–an eight mile trip that consisted of several nervous calls to the rest of the news team.  However, such instances aren’t at all rare for Plesser.

“We cover a story that is not popular, and we risk our lives to do it,” he said in his address to the audience.  

After multiple quips that his stupidity had allowed him to cover such dangerous events, Plesser acknowledged that it was, rather, that the story needed to be told, and that he was good at telling it, that was the motivation for his coverage.

Plesser noted that his and his news team’s decisions to enter dangerous areas are entirely separate, and everyone on the team has a vote prior to entering about whether they will go or not.  But for Plessor, the choice is always simple: he will go.  

“I fear what they fear, if they get shot at, I get shot at.” he said of his role as a producer.

After a brief summary of his work in Syria, Plesser was joined by Iowa Public Radio’s Ben Kieffer and the event took on a political undertone as audience members asked about the presidential hopefuls’ role in the Syrian refugee crisis and ISIS.  To this, Plesser mocked what he described to be the contenders’ typical responses to eliminating ISIS: bombing and nuking.

He also stated, in response to a question about who–Obama or Bush–was more responsible for the growth of ISIS, that “we need to let go of simple explanations,” and that there was much more to the conflict than the actions of an American politician.

He went on to subtly mocked Iowa caucus winners Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton–Cruz for his promise to bomb Syria and Clinton for her refusal to attribute the war on Iraq to the rise of ISIS–before asking the audience to redefine the conversation between viewers of news and news corporations themselves.    

“All I’m asking you to do is to tune in and prove us wrong,” Plesser said, referring to the less favorable ratings of foreign related news.