POLITICS
04/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Washington Post Is Of Mixed Mind On The Matter Of Chas Freeman

My colleague Ryan Grim points out to me today that the Washington Post finds itself in a state of paradox on a single issue, if you compare the words of its reporter to the words of its editor. At issue is the scotched nomination of Charles "Chas" Freeman to the post of Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, and whether or not it was ultimately subject to the influence of the "Israel Lobby" - who typically are never a more powerful force than when fighting those who dare to observe their existence. Now, in a world governed by sodium pentathol injections, the answer to the question of whether the influence of the Israel Lobby had an effect on Freeman not getting this post would be "YES IT WAS THE END." But the American media has traditions and rules of engagement that govern this part of the discourse that largely involve the juxtaposition of heads with the tag end of the alimentary canal, which is why you get stuff like what's running in the Post today.

Let's begin with an article on the matter, reported out by one of the Post's ace reporters, Walter Pincus:

Only a few Jewish organizations came out publicly against Freeman's appointment, but a handful of pro-Israeli bloggers and employees of other organizations worked behind the scenes to raise concerns with members of Congress, their staffs and the media.

For example, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), often described as the most influential pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington, "took no position on this matter and did not lobby the Hill on it," spokesman Josh Block said.

But Block responded to reporters' questions and provided critical material about Freeman, albeit always on background, meaning his comments could not be attributed to him, according to three journalists who spoke to him. Asked about this yesterday, Block replied: "As is the case with many, many issues every day, when there is general media interest in a subject, I often provide publicly available information to journalists on background."

Pincus also quotes a spokesman from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs who said: "We think Israel and any presumed 'lobby' had far less effect on the outcome than the common-sensical belief that the person who is the gatekeeper of intelligence information for the President of the United States should be unencumbered by payments from foreign governments." And there's room for a fair argument on that! But with Pincus reporting out precisely what AIPAC did in the matter of Freeman, how did these words make it into the lead editorial of the very same edition of the Washington Post?

For the record, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee says that it took no formal position on Mr. Freeman's appointment and undertook no lobbying against him. If there was a campaign, its leaders didn't bother to contact the Post editorial board.

Oh, my! They didn't "contact the Post editorial board?" Well, then you did your goddamn due diligence I guess!

And that's the incredibly true story of how I penetrated this cunning bit of obfuscation by reading the very paper the obfuscators claim to edit.

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