Why Did a Reference to AIPAC Vanish From an NYT Story on the Syria Push?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 3 2013 1:29 PM

Why Did a Reference to AIPAC Vanish From an NYT Story on the Syria Push?

Now you see it, now you don't.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

UPDATE: The mystery was solved, and pretty easily, by Connor Simpson. The Times churned out a bunch of stories from the same team; an earlier, different piece in their paper included a quote that appeared in that. omnibus piece from the syndicates. I'm genuinely chagrined about dashing this off too quickly, my only defenses being 1) I have managed to spend half of every day since Friday in transit somewhere, not reading news stories and 2) my point was that the AIPAC item was much juicier than the McCain lede.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

This is a graf that appears near the end of a Sept. 2 New York Times piece by Jackie Calmes, Michael Gordon, and Eric Schmitt, on the evolving negotiations in Washington over striking Syria.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama has invited the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate defense, foreign affairs and intelligence committees to the White House. But that night, he will depart on a long-planned foreign trip, first to Sweden and then to Russia for the annual Group of 20 summit meeting of major industrialized and developing nations, a forum that is sure to be dominated by talk of Syria, and bring Mr. Obama face to face with Mr. Assad’s chief ally and arms supplier, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

But here was how that section looked in a Boston Globe version of the story—a syndicated version, with the same authors.

On Tuesday, Obama is to meet with the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and their counterparts in the House.
Administration officials said the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee was already at work pressing for military action against the government of 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.”

That bit in bold is absent, completely, from the NYT version. For it sins, the NYT was called out by Israel policy critic M.J. Rosenberg; for now, it hasn't explained why the grafs were cut. You could argue that the section wasn't key, I suppose, but it was more interesting than the lede news that the Syria strike plan had "tentative support of one of President Obama’s most hawkish critics, Senator John McCain." He'd been calling for this for months! The appeal to pro-Israel sentiment in this campaign is just dead-bang obvious, from John Kerry putting Assad in the same sentence as Hitler to the references to "Munich" and appeasement.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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