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‘NYT’ deletes references to AIPAC’s role in pushing strike on Syria


Last night MJ Rosenberg posted an excerpt from a New York Times article published yesterday about the White House’s efforts to convince Congress of the wisdom of a strike on Syria. The excerpt said the Israel lobby group AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) was pushing a strike so that the US would also stand up to Iran, and it quoted a White House official calling AIPAC the “800-pound gorilla in the room.”

Here’s the excerpt:

Administration officials said the influential pro-Israel lobby group Aipac was already at work pressing for military action against the government of Mr. Assad, fearing that if Syria escapes American retribution for its use of chemical weapons, Iran might be emboldened in the future to attack Israel. In the House, the majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, has long worked to challenge Democrats’ traditional base among Jews.

One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called Aipac “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, “If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line” against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, “we’re in trouble.”

Last night both Annie Robbins and Max Blumenthal followed Rosenberg’s link to the Times article, and noted that it had been changed. Robbins tweeted at 9 PM:

@MJayRosenberg @nytimes cut #aipac “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” quote from article. no mention of aipac. they are ‘silent’!

Blumenthal sent out an email: “I am unable to find it anywhere on the Times’ website. What happened, and why has the New York Times not acknowledged replacing one article with another one in a matter of hours?”

MJ Rosenberg then did a post on the deletion.

This UK site shows 11 revisions of the Times article. Between Version 5 and 6, it lost the 800-pound gorilla and AIPAC’s role in pushing an attack on Syria.

Blumenthal asks, “I have never witnessed anything like this before. Is it standard practice for online New York Times reports to be scrubbed from existence and replaced with revised, updated articles containing different content? And if so, why was the replacement not acknowledged somewhere in the text of the article?”

The Times’s Robert Mackey has defended the deletion. On twitter, he says that many articles morph on the Times website in the internet age. He points readers to the original version of the article, on the Times website. Titled “President Seeks to Rally Support for Syria Strike,” it is bylined Michael Gordon and Jackie Calmes and includes the 800-pound gorilla quote and the direct reference to AIPAC’s push for war.

The article as revised has lost that quote and the description of AIPAC’s role. Now titled, “President Gains McCain’s Backing on Syria Strike,” this article is bylined Calmes, Gordon and Eric Schmitt.

Mackey says that the Times is being transparent. Here’s some of his dialogue with Yousef Munayyer and Ali Gharib

Gharib: this is a not insignificant detail, by the article’s own lights.

Mackey: I am nor debating that point, just explaining fact that most articles now morph on site every day..

Mackey: what confuses people is how site posts drafts of articles that morph from one day’s paper to next

Munayyer: Robert do you see why that edit raises eyebrows?

Mackey: you seem to discount transparency of the news organization now sharing early drafts online

Munayyer: LOL The finds and then manages to misplace the 800lb gorilla in the room

Update: The Times sent the following email to Politico early this afternoon. Not sure it clarifies. From Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha:

We regularly edit web stories for the print paper. This particular change was made to avoid repeating the same thought which ran in a page one story on Monday. That article entitled, “President Seeks to Rally Support for Syria Strike” included the following:

“One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called the American Israel Political Affairs Committee “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, ‘If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line’ — against catastrophic use of chemical weapons — ‘we’re in trouble.'”


Update: Ali Gharib has also reported on the matter, with more of the sequence on the removal of the offending language, and a note that an 800-pound gorilla operates by its own rules.

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30 Responses

  1. Citizen
    September 3, 2013, 12:30 pm

    More from MJ Rosenberg:

    AIPAC’s Debbie Wasserman Shultz: Dozens Of Countries Support Syria Attack, Can’t Name One

    Debbie Wasserman Shultz is the only Member of Congress I ever met who doesn’t just mouth AIPAC talking points. She says where they came from. I was talking with her about the situation on the West Bank and she cut me off, “Don’t bother. I’m AIPAC.”

    Give her credit. There were rich donors to her campaign in the room (the non-AIPAC kind) and she dismissed them. “I’m AIPAC.”

    It kind of explains this. After shocking Wolf Blitzer with the news that “dozens of countries” will support a US strike on Syria, she has no answer when he asks her to name one.

    I guess AIPAC forgot to attach the second page to her script. Oh well. By the way, AIPAC’s Debbie is head of the Democratic National Committee.

    What a tool.

    • Krauss
      September 3, 2013, 3:55 pm

      By the way, now Kerry is refusing to rule out ground troops.

      Mission creep here we come.

      • just
        September 3, 2013, 7:12 pm

        Of course he can’t rule out ground troops. It might be the only honest thing he’s said so far, (sadly).

        Once we bomb and kill, we “bought” it. If anyone thinks that this will be not be a “mess”, they don’t know much at all.

        John Kerry needs to remember how good of an returning Vietnam vet he once was– then he stood for something terribly important, imho.

  2. eGuard
    September 3, 2013, 12:47 pm

    This post contradicts the post here, from just a few hours earlier: Mainstream press openly addresses Israel lobby’s role in US policy re Syria

  3. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    September 3, 2013, 12:47 pm

    Good thing that Winston Smith is on the job at the Ministry of Truth, so we now know all about Comrade Ogilvy’s exploits fighting Eurasia on the Syrian front.

  4. gingershot
    September 3, 2013, 12:58 pm

    People interested in Palestine and the Neocon/Israeli Lobby warmongering of the US are up against one of the sharpest, slickest, and most powerful lobbying and propaganda outfits in the modern history of the world

    The raw power exercised by the Lobby is really almost beyond belief

    It is as if the Israeli Lobby has a magic wand to make what it wants **POOOF** just ‘happen’. The power to disappear as well to make appear as if by magic – whether the words of a president or the words of a NYTimes article

    The power possessed by the Israeli Lobby, behind the scenes, in putting words (and ‘redlines’) in an American president’s mouth, in controlling the media message, and in controlling the foreign/domestic policies of the US is nearly beyond belief

  5. seafoid
    September 3, 2013, 1:27 pm

    AIPAC must have been on DEFCON 1 when they saw the original article.
    Lobbies are not supposed to be as infamous as Miley Cyrus twerking.

  6. Edward Q
    Edward Q
    September 3, 2013, 1:32 pm

    The reference to AIPAC has been lost to the memory hole.

  7. James Canning
    James Canning
    September 3, 2013, 3:19 pm

    Fascinating, and disturbing. NYT should have more courage. American public needs to know more about Aipac and its role in endless war in the Middle East.

    • seafoid
      September 3, 2013, 3:54 pm

      AIPAC isn’t playing this one with its usual slickness. I wonder if certain people in DC are tiring of the wonderful outperformer/persecuted Janus spiel of the bots.
      It’s all very well expecting American grunts to die for the Likud’s strategic fantasies but maybe it isn’t so good to go to the well too often.

  8. Edward Q
    Edward Q
    September 3, 2013, 3:44 pm posted an article today about Israeli unease with being viewed as behind an American attack an Syria:

  9. LanceThruster
    September 3, 2013, 4:42 pm

    Curiouser and curiouser.

  10. DICKERSON3870
    September 3, 2013, 4:49 pm

    RE: “‘NYT’ deletes references to AIPAC’s role in pushing strike on Syria”

    MY COMMENT: “The Gray Lady” just keeps getting more and more dingy and haggard.
    Forty or so years ago it had relatively unbiased coverage of Israel, AIPAC, etc.

  11. hophmi
    September 3, 2013, 5:19 pm

    Well, the two paragraphs in question were two of many paragraphs taken out between versions 5 and 6. Others included graphs about the Saudi ambassador and about the French reaction.

  12. giladg
    September 3, 2013, 6:07 pm

    Why is it that AIPAC can never do anything right and Muslims and Arabs can never do anything wrong? The world according to Garp and of course, Mondoweiss.

    • just
      September 3, 2013, 7:17 pm

      puh- leeze! How many Muslims have the US and Israel killed? How many Muslims has the US and Israel demonized? How many Muslim countries and people are the US and Israel manipulating? And, how much Islamophobia is the US and Israel promoting and for how long has it been going on?

      AIPAC is a foreign lobbying power, comfortably ensconced right in the middle of our government– at the highest levels.

      PS– I responded to your question, but I have to ask– why are you comparing AIPAC to “Muslims and Arabs”?

      Quite curious.

      • K Renner
        K Renner
        September 4, 2013, 2:21 am

        “PS– I responded to your question, but I have to ask– why are you comparing AIPAC to “Muslims and Arabs”? ”

        It’s either an attempt at non-sequitur or it’s just a case of dear old gilly displaying Zionist Tourette’s syndrome.

        “Well I think that AIPAC is absolutely shameless, especially in the sense that they couldn’t give two squits about the people who have been suffering and dying for two and a half years in Syria.”

        “Oh-oh yeah? Why aren’t you criticizing Arabs? The clerics in Saudi Arabia are Arabs, so that means Arabs the Arabs, Arabs. You obviously support Osama bin Laden because Arabs.”

    • eljay
      September 3, 2013, 7:38 pm

      >> Why is it that AIPAC can never do anything right and Muslims and Arabs can never do anything wrong? The world according to Garp and of course, Mondoweiss.

      Why is it that AIPAC can never do anything wrong and Muslims and Arabs can never do anything right? The world according to Zio-supremacists.

    • talknic
      September 3, 2013, 9:00 pm

      @ giladg “Why is it that AIPAC can never do anything right and Muslims and Arabs can never do anything wrong?”

      Supporting the illegal acquisition of territory by war can never be right.

      Arabs and Muslims are not acquiring anyone’s territory by war. Do not have hundreds of UNSC resolutions against them for illegal activities outside their respective states.

      “The world according to Garp and of course, Mondoweiss.”

      The world according to the MAJORITY of the UNSC actually

      • giladg
        September 3, 2013, 11:29 pm

        Since when has there ever been truth in politics? The UNSC is all about politics. So is international law.

    • Cliff
      September 3, 2013, 9:43 pm

      Why is it that giladg can never criticize Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine and Jewish colonialism?

    • K Renner
      K Renner
      September 4, 2013, 2:15 am

      Annnnnd the award for “idiotic grade-school level petulance” goes to….


      Seriously though, how does talking about the dirty doings of AIPAC relate to Arabs, or Muslim Arabs?

      Is it likely that AIPAC members have a pathological hatred for Arabs, and want to paint regular or pro-secularist Muslims as the very worst of Al Queda?

      Most definitely, but apart from confirming that fact, the two groups are not intrinsically entwined with each other or whatever you’re trying to suggest.

    • Walid
      September 4, 2013, 2:28 am

      “Why… Arabs can never do anything wrong?”

      What gave you that impression, giladg?

  13. American
    September 3, 2013, 6:24 pm

    giladg says:
    September 3, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Why is it that AIPAC can never do anything right and Muslims and Arabs can never do anything wrong? The world according to Garp and of course, Mondoweiss.>>>

    Oh stuff it would you—-did you not see us criticizing the Egypt and Saudi Arabs.

  14. Betsy
    September 3, 2013, 8:50 pm

    the entire paragraph was in the hard copy of the second largest newspaper in Kentucky this morning — the Lexington Herald-Leader (to my astonishment). But, seems to have disappeared from the website Altho’ there is a short AP article on the topic, saying “AIPAC wields significant influence in Congress, which is expected to vote on authorizing use of force against Syria” So, the story spread across at least some parts of the country in hard copy.

  15. DICKERSON3870
    September 4, 2013, 3:01 am

    RE: “‘NYT’ deletes references to AIPAC’s role in pushing strike on Syria”


    ● FROM Prevent an Attack on Syria Now

    If you live in the U.S. and want to email Obama, your senators and representative, expressing opposition to an attack on Syria, please click HERE.

    If you reside outside the United States, you can still sign this petition by clicking HERE.

  16. Citizen
    September 4, 2013, 5:54 am

    When Rand Paul asked Kerry what was America’s interest in attacking Syria, Kerry replied “Israel.”

  17. just
    September 4, 2013, 7:34 am

    “Given he has been calling for the Syrian rebels to be armed for more than 18 months, you would have thought that Senator John McCain might have been interested in what was said during the three-hour hearing of the Senate committee on foreign relations discussing the potential use of force against the Assad regime.

    But it seems the former US Republican presidential candidate, who is perhaps the loudest voice in US politics in favour of intervention on behalf of the Syrian rebels, had more pressing things on his mind.

    McCain was caught by a Washington Post photographer playing poker on his iPhone during the hearing. Perhaps the Republican pro-interventionist , who was critical of the president for asking Congress for approval to strike Syria, was trying to make some clumsy metaphor about Obama’s political gamble or the high stakes involved. Or maybe not.

    The senator later owned up, making light of the fact. He seemed to imply that the reason he was gaming was the sheer length of the committee meeting. “Scandal! Caught playing iPhone game at 3+ hour Senate hearing – worst of all I lost!” he tweeted.”

    And this is our Congress, and the man that President Obama sought advice from on Monday– the man who was a loser, is a loser and will always be a loser. The man who wants to ‘bomb, bomb, bomb Iran’.

  18. LanceThruster
    September 4, 2013, 2:08 pm

    This exemplifies our dysfunctional discourse as clearly as anything can.

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