The Corner

That New York Times Epilogue to Chas Freeman

In its epilogue to Chas Freeman’s withdrawal from consideration to head the National Intelligence Council, the New York Times headlined “Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee.”

To support the headline, Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper (who has been promoting her book on a website run by one of Freeman’s main supporters) say only: “The decision surprised some in the White House who worried that the selection could be controversial and an unnecessary distraction, according to  administration officials.” The administration officials are neither named nor are they quoted saying anything to support Mazzetti and Cooper’s argument. Those who Mazzetti and Cooper cite to support their thesis are outside the administration and in positions which do not suggest inside knowledge. Indeed, it seems much more likely that Freeman’s cheerleading for Chinese interests and positions was more of a problem for the people like Nancy Pelosi and the Hollywood Tibet crowd, both of whom have Obama’s ear.

To be fair, Mazzetti and Cooper may have nothing to do with the headline — that might have been put on by any random editor. But it certainly does appear that Mazzetti and Cooper were lazy — they appeared to outline their story based on Andrew Sullivan’s “timeline,” which, unfortunately, Sullivan cherrypicked to omit the China concerns.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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