Sunday, July 5, 2009

NYTimes Framing Fail

The New York Times' Brian Knowlton has a story up which makes it seems as if Vice President Joe Biden said something controversial on "This Week With George Stephanopolous" this morning about the U.S. giving Israel the green light to bomb Iran. This story has now spawned posts on at least two major left leaning blogs concerned that Biden may have been sending the wrong signal today. We know its Joe Biden so most people will just assume he made another gaffe, but did he really?

No he didn't. He repeated basically the same thing President Obama has said over and over and that is that the United States can't dictate to Israel what Israel does with respect to Iran. That is the stance any American president and or Vice President HAS to take publicly. Israel is a soverign nation and we can't go admitting that we can control their actions. That doesn't mean they won't put pressure on Israel behind the scenes to deter them from coming to the conclusion that they "need" to bomb Iran anymore than it means we will allow them to fly over Iraq's airspace to attack Iran. It just means the administration won't give Republicans a target to shoot at by saying anything the GOP can twist into "they don't care about Israel's safety".

For anyone concerned that this was some kind of "gaffe" I would suggest you go and just read the transcript, which unsurprisngly the NYTimes guy didn't link to, and see for yourself in full context if what Biden said was REALLY so earth shattering compared to what Obama has said repeaedly.

Check out the full exchange and see if you come away with the same feeling as you got from reading the NYTimes article

BIDEN: If the Iranians respond to the offer of engagement, we will engage.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the offer is on the table?

BIDEN: The offer's on the table.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it pretty clear that he agreed with President Obama to give until the end of the year for this whole process of engagement to work. After that, he's prepared to make matters into his own hands.

Is that the right approach?

BIDEN: Look, Israel can determine for itself -- it's a sovereign nation -- what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Whether we agree or not?

BIDEN: Whether we agree or not. They're entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that. But there is no pressure from any nation that's going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed.

What we believe is in the national interest of the United States, which we, coincidentally, believe is also in the interest of Israel and the whole world.
And so there are separate issues.

If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But just to be clear here, if the Israelis decide Iran is an existential threat, they have to take out the nuclear program, militarily the United States will not stand in the way?

BIDEN: Look, we cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination that they're existentially threatened and their survival is threatened by another country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say we can't dictate, but we can, if we choose to, deny over-flight rights here in Iraq. We can stand in the way of a military strike.

BIDEN: I'm not going to speculate, George, on those issues, other than to say Israel has a right to determine what's in its interests, and we have a right and we will determine what's in our interests.

Just as a reminder here is what President Obama has said about the same issue.

With respect to concerns Israel might carry out an air strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, the US president said that since Israel is "right there in the range" of Iranian missiles, "their calculation of costs and benefits are going to be more acute."

Obama remarked that he did not think it was his place to "determine for the Israelis what their security needs are."

Can you find any space between the two statements? Because I can't. Biden really is just toeing the company line here. Shame on the New York Times for trying to invent a controversy.


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  2. All I can say is the NY Times is so "Liberal".
    My theory as to why newspapers and TV News shows can't just report the news and leave opinons for the Editoral pages, is because they think the American people are to stupid to form their own opinions. After all the reporters rub shoulders with the elite and therefore are smarter than the average citizen.


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