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Elephant waddles through room. ‘NYT’ doesn’t see it

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A landscape  in Africa. A dirt road in the foreground. Cumulus clouds, savannah, and trees in the distance.

African landscape. Savannah, trees, mountains and cumulus clouds, foregrounded by red dirt road typical to sub-Sahara area.

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.”

James North
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10 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    January 17, 2014, 12:05 pm

    Well, yes.

    NYT, RIP. (Don’t I wish.) The newspaper “of” (with a scratch in the) record. A lie with legs. A living lie. How many ways can NYT avoid saying the truth where Israel is concerned. Let me count the ways. Pity the reporters, especially any who were trained to be journalists instead of megaphones for power.

    And who’s a-gonna clean up all them elephant droppings in the NYT lobby?

    • January 17, 2014, 12:53 pm

      In Africa I learned that you do not drive over elephant droppings, you drive around them. Therefore, Israel will be increasingly isolated and spurned.

  2. HarryLaw
    January 17, 2014, 12:24 pm

    “How could your average reader of the New York Times understand what’s really happening here?” Everyone is speculating on the average reader of the New York Times being ignorant of who is behind all this, this is all rather condescending, when Obama called for strikes against Syria on the grounds of use of chemical weapons, the US public sure knew what was going on and communicated their feelings in no uncertain terms to their Congressional representatives, some polls of the US electorate put Congress popularity as low as 10%, lets not assume the average US citizen does not know what’s going on.

    • David Doppler
      David Doppler
      January 17, 2014, 2:26 pm

      I agree HarryLaw. I suspect that if someone did a poll of average NYT readers they’d find a surprisingly large percentage are well aware that there are Israel-related taboos in effect. They read Haaretz and Mondoweiss for news on the Middle East, and they read the NYT to see how those filters are working today and how they’re finally changing. What that percentage is would be elucidated by understanding how many people read Mondoweiss? Phil, Adam, care to share?

      • Donald
        January 17, 2014, 5:31 pm

        “I suspect that if someone did a poll of average NYT readers they’d find a surprisingly large percentage are well aware that there are Israel-related taboos in effect”

        “Surprisingly large percentage” implies that a big fraction wouldn’t be aware of Israel-related taboos. If you read the comments after NYT articles on this subject, you will find a large number of people who seem to read MW or places with a similar point of view. But you’ll also find plenty of people who seem to get their info from the NYT and even some who think the NYT is slanted against Israel.

        Sort of a trivial side note, but I get a kick out of all the NYT commenters and letter-writers who start their comments with a phrase like “Bravo to Tom Friedman for his insightful remarks on….” I’ve never seen anyone in the modern era use the term “bravo” unless they’re being funny, or showing doglike devotion to the Gray Lady. I would bet that very few “bravo” using commenters are reading criticisms of Tom Friedman or the NYT online or anywhere else.

  3. meddy
    January 17, 2014, 1:31 pm

    59 co-sponsors [43 Republicans] I suppose that’s an improvement from the days when an AIPACer could brag that he could get 70 senate signatures on a paper napkin.

    Perhaps we should check with some other “Times” —
    62 U.S. organizations warn Senate against new Iran sanctions

  4. Tuyzentfloot
    January 17, 2014, 1:45 pm

    Elephant waddles through room. ‘NYT’ doesn’t see it

    Maybe it was one of these:
    A chamelephantish thingy

  5. bilal a
    bilal a
    January 17, 2014, 2:13 pm

    The Israel link is a red herring, false correlation.
    Its a meritocracy, only the smart congress-noids are voting for it, with the help of the 5/3 ers.

    Noblesse oblige. The White man’s burden, 2.0.

  6. just
    January 18, 2014, 10:00 am

    James North, with all due respect, the mighty elephant does not “waddle”…

    Ducks, geese and penguins waddle, as do most human tots.

  7. January 18, 2014, 11:15 am

    The NYT does see the elephant. But the Israel desk at the NYT often might seem to be protecting Israel and AIPAC from criticism, because they regularly fail to reveal all the facts or the opposing views. As you point out, they hope in vain that we will not detect the elephant in the room. This strategy has actually worked for 50 years or more. However, the internet age has facilitated the spread of information to the dummed-down American masses who have been victimized by the lies and propaganda from the Israel partisans. At last, the truth is gradually being spread. Now, for the first time in my life, there are actually a small number of new people like Max Blumenthal and Peter Beinart etc who criticize Israel for such deceptions – and these pioneers are steadily moving from the periphery into the mainstream. Things are finally changing and the Israel-motivated armor is developing more and more holes – it is starting to unravel. Added to this is the burgeoning chorus that BDS is the only way to change the dysfunctional activities of the Israeli government. And mainstream media is finally comparing Israel to the South African apartheid system and starting to blame AIPAC and Israel for undermining our American majority opinions. Not so long ago Israel was able to label Jimmy Carter as an anti-semite and silence him because he used the word apartheid in reference to Israel. Those days are over. If Israel rejects Kerry’s peace plan they will suffer a huge backlash that will itself eventually ensure the peace. The tipping point has been passed. This week, the US government is already on the record for calling the Israeli Defense Minister “offensive”. In my opinion the elephant is soiling the floor and therefore Obama and Kerry are getting tougher with Israel. This negative reaction to Israel is spreading like wildfire in America. Stay tuned.

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