An especially-tubby elephant is waddling around the living room in today’s New York Times article about the Senate bill to increase sanctions on Iran just as the U.S. is trying to cut a deal with Iran. “A Bill Stokes Debate, and Doubt, on Iran Deal,” by Mark Landler, begins:
Its Senate sponsors describe it as a “diplomatic insurance policy” that will help President Obama cut a better nuclear deal with Iran. The White House condemns it as a deal-killer that could put the United States on a path to war.
The piece then analyzes the 52-page bill, but the word AIPAC appears nowhere. Israel finally appears in the 17th of 20 paragraphs–
White House officials also shake their heads at a provision that would commit the United States to support Israel, militarily if necessary, if it decided to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities in “legitimate self-defense.” Defenders of the bill say the provision is nonbinding and merely repeats an expression of solidarity with Israel that passed the Senate last year.
Anyone reading this would think that a bunch of legislators differ about how to deal with Iran, and there’s one group on one side and another group on the other side. But it doesn’t tell you who’s promoting it. How could your average reader of the New York Times understand what’s really happening here? Compare the Times story to Jim Lobe’s coverage.
In what looks to be a clear victory — at least for now — for President Barack Obama, a major effort by the Israel lobby and its most powerful constituent, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to pass a new sanctions bill against Iran has stalled in the U.S. Senate.
And that was his lead! The fact is that most of these senators don’t care about Iran but they want to stay on the good side of the Israel lobby to continue to get contributions. And to not get political opposition. (Just the other day Landler was clear about AIPAC’s role. But a news article has to be considered self-contained.)
The Times even has a picture of Dianne Feinstein. But she is not mentioned in the article. The Times fails to point out what an influential speech she made, attacking the legislation. That’s why she is there: Because she did a courageous and influential thing. Has the Times reported this?
The Times is basically hiding from readers that an organization that represents the foreign policy interests of another country is trying to interfere with the peace process, which the majority of the American people support.
Let’s say the banking lobby proposed a new set of laws involving checking and savings accounts. Let’s say that an article appeared in the Times saying this would encourage savings on the one hand or on the the other hand it wouldn’t encourage savings. Let’s say the article left out the fact that the banking lobby was spending 100s of millions to support the legislation and various senators felt they would get primary challenges or lose financial contributions if they failed to support it. That would be an integral part of the story, and the Times would supply it.
More from Jim Lobe’s story on the transparent politics:
While the legislation, the “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013,” had gathered 59 co-sponsors in the 100-member upper chambre by last week, opposition to it among Democrats appears to have mounted in recent days.
That opposition apparently prompted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who controls the floor calendar, to back away from a previous commitment to permit a vote on the measure some time over the next few weeks. As a result, AIPAC is now reportedly hoping to get the bill through the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.
The National Journal also says that the hawks are floundering. It buries the Israel angle, but at least it’s there.
Other members are hoping lobbying groups can carry the weight on this one. McCain said he hoped pro-Israel groups could convince Democrats to spring into action or that supporters could make it uncomfortable for Reid to continue blocking the bill.
“We’ll see what happens—whether the pressure builds, how active some of these constituencies are, particularly in states with large pro-Israel populations,” McCain said. “And we may just start bringing it up and saying, ‘We ask unanimous consent that we bring it up,’ and make Senator Reid object.”