Washington Post senior editor Lally Weymouth
Six years ago, Washington Post senior editor Lally Weymouth was criticized by the Electronic Intifada for conducting a softball interview with Ehud Olmert. Not much has changed since then.
Weymouth, whose family owns and publishes the Post, got the opportunity to interview Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak this week in Tel Aviv. Weymouth’s piece made some news, with Haaretz highlighting what Barak said on Syria, but it was a softball interview.
The Israeli campaign to shift the world’s focus from Palestine to Iran has worked, at least on the Washington Post–the vast majority of Weymouth’s questions focus on the Iranian nuclear program.
Here’s some of what Weymouth asked Barak:
Are you worried that a third nuclear site may be discovered?
Can Israel launch a military strike against Iran, and can it succeed?
Do you believe that one good thing about the downfall of Assad would be that it could break the axis between Syria and Iran?
Do you think the U.S. administration understands that you have a difficult choice to make about Iran?
And so on. The most telling question reflects the dominant narrative about Iran in the US media: that Iran is slowly moving towards developing a nuclear weapon.
Weymouth commented to Barak: “I saw one report speculating that Iran can produce highly enriched uranium at Fordow.” Weymouth is referring to a Associated Press article reporting that
Inspectors have located radioactive traces at an Iranian underground bunker, the U.N. atomic agency said Friday — a finding that could mean Iran has moved closer to reaching the uranium threshold needed to arm nuclear missiles.
But Barbara Slavin, an Iran expert writing for Al-Monitor, poured cold water on the alarming tone of the AP report:
A report today by the Associated Press that nuclear inspectors have found traces of uranium enriched beyond 20 percent at Iran’s Fordow enrichment plant appears to reflect changes in the design of centrifuge cascades rather than a deliberate Iranian effort to get closer to weapons-grade uranium.
David Albright, a former arms inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based organization that closely tracks nuclear proliferation, told Al-Monitor in an email that the higher level of enrichment “is likely due to improved cascade design. The cascades at Fordow making 19.7 percent LEU [low-enriched uranium] have 17 stages instead of 15 as in the old cascade design. An effect is to overshoot 20 percent when 3.5 percent LEU is fed into the tandem cascades at the old feed rate for 15 stage cascades.”
Also telling is the fact that Weymouth let Barak’s hyperbole go unchallenged. Barak told Weymouth that Iran “waited 4,000 years to have a nuclear bomb.” You read that right. I wonder if Weymouth thought anything of that comment–you wouldn’t know it from the interview.
For any hint of this thing called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you would have to read to the end. Weymouth asks Barak, “What do you think will happen to the peace process?” But Weymouth doesn’t mention the occupation, settlements or the blockade of Gaza in her questions.
The interview is an exercise in Israeli hasbara, with Weymouth as the facilitator. What’s encouraging, though, are some of the comments:
This interview reads like a Sean Hannity interview of Sarah Palin.
Another weak, softball interview of an Israeli official by Weymouth. She did not ask one question about Israel’s nuclear arsenal and the hypocrisy of Israel demanding anything of Iran. She did not refer to the continued building of illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land as an impediment to the two state solution. She did not mention the acts of terror against the Palestinian civilians in the occupied lands by the “price tag” settlers. And on and on. A worthless interview, more of a propaganda piece.
Here we go again. Just listen to the drums of war, with the same beat we heard when Bush lied the nation into war against Iraq over non existent WMDs. Why wasn’t Barak asked about the fact that both American and Israeli intelligence agencies believe that Iran gave up its nuclear weapons program years ago? Why no questions about Israel’s massive nuclear weapons program capable of incinerating all 70 million Iranians if that country were to be so suicidal as to attack Israel?