This morning, Mr. Bookworm asked me “Who is Charles Freeman?” Because he reads only the Times, he’d never heard of him before today. I gave a brief summary of Freeman’s views re China, the Middle East and 9/11, as well as the fact that he lives in Saudi and Chinese pockets financially. Mr. Bookworm listened silently, and then said, “Well, I’ve never heard of him, but it’s all over the front pages today that the Jewish Lobby destroyed him.”
I thought this was hyperbole on Mr. Bookworm’s part, but it’s not. Despite the fact that the past three weeks revealed vast amounts of irrefutable evidence about Freeman’s China connections, his 9/11 pronouncements and his general malevolent wackiness, the Times, now that it finally deigned to cover the matter, actually parrots Freeman and blames the Jews.
The Times titles its “story” (and I use that term deliberately, in the way one refers to a falsehood) about Freeman’s political demise thusly: “Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post.” The story begins with a bizarre first paragraph that explains that the White House really had no idea what was going on and was kind of worried about Freeman, but ultimately was just as blindsided by the Freeman nomination as anyone else. As for me, I don’t find this “excuse” comforting. I find it a scary sign that, again, the White House is either utterly incompetent or was complicit in this failed nomination and is now using incompetence as an excuse.
Having done their best to trumpet the Bush administration’s innocence in this mess, the article’s authors just pile it on Israel, as seen through the Freeman lens:
Just how controversial the choice would be became clear on Tuesday, when Mr. Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the first President Bush, angrily withdrew his name from consideration and charged that he had been the victim of a concerted campaign by what he called “the Israel lobby.”
Mr. Freeman had long been critical of Israel, with a bluntness that American officials rarely voice in public about a staunch American ally. In 2006, he warned that, “left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them and enrage those who are not.”
He did not soften his tone even on Wednesday, saying in an interview that “Israel is driving itself toward a cliff, and it is irresponsible not to question Israeli policy and to decide what is best for the American people.”
The critics who led the effort to derail Mr. Freeman argued that such views reflected a bias that could not be tolerated in someone who, as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, would have overseen the production of what are supposed to be policy-neutral intelligence assessments destined for the president’s desk.
Some of Mr. Freeman’s defenders say his views on Israel are extreme only when seen through the lens of American political life, and they asked whether it was possible to question American support for Israel without being either muzzled or marginalized.
“The reality of Washington is that our political landscape finds it difficult to assimilate any criticism of any segment of the Israeli leadership,” said Robert W. Jordan, who was ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2003.
The above is just a representative sample. The article never actually examines Freeman’s problems. It engages in a he said/she said approach, giving equal airtime to his supporters, and leaving the very strong impression (supported by the story’s title), that all-powering Jews destroyed Freeman — just as Freeman claimed.
Only in the last third of this lengthy article covering Freeman’s views about Israel and the effort Jewish groups made to derail him does one actually hear about China, and then only in the most cursory fashion, and spread out over myriad paragraphs:
In the days after Senator Schumer’s first phone call, other lawmakers and pro-Israel groups began applying pressure on the White House. Representative Steve Israel, a New York Democrat, also called Mr. Emanuel about the pick, and pushed Mr. Blair’s inspector general to examine possible conflicts of interest surrounding Mr. Freeman’s relationships with the Chinese and Saudi governments.
Before his ambassadorship, Mr. Freeman held a variety of State Department posts. Since leaving government, he has worked with nonprofit groups and on the board of the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation, a past position that his critics said could be a conflict of interest in his new job.
Critics also unearthed e-mail messages attributed to Mr. Freeman that seemed to support the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, saying it was not “acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be.”
Mr. Freeman said Wednesday that the passage was taken out of context, and that he had been describing the dominant view in China in the years after the crackdown.
I won’t even dignify what theTimes did by calling it journalism. I can easily call it biased, disgraceful and dishonest, though.
Of course, really, it’s all part of a pattern. In one of the local Marin papers, The Twin Cities Times, the front page has a glowing encomium about Cuba (although, interestingly, the article isn’t available on line). A local Marin-ite wrote the article after a trip to Cuba. To give the writer total credit, he did something the Times would never dream of doing: he spelled out his bias in the article as well as the fact that a “tour” guide accompanied them the whole time (although you had to read pretty far down to get to that information):
Most [on this trip] were activists trying to end the embargo and get a better view of the realities of life there. All our activities included a bus and our guide, Arturo, who translated everything for us.
After the usual about the people being very nice (which I believe), and very ingenious (which I believe), we start getting the useful idiot shtick: full employment, fabulous health care, state funded exercise classes, amazing women’s rights, etc. It doesn’t seem to occur to our local naif that, since he’s getting a government guided tour of a police state, he might just be seeing a Potemkin village and that people the guide interviewed on the tourists behalf might not have been speaking honestly for fear of state retribution. (And you have to assume that, even if our innocent writer didn’t understand it, the ordinary Cubans knew that the “guide” was almost certainly a member of Cuba’s secret police.)
I wonder if the author’s article knew, or cared, that anyone who criticizes the Cuban government is summarily imprisoned. (Jay Nordlinger, at Impromptus, regularly reports on the terrible treatment meted out to Cuban dissidents.) I wonder if he ever wonders why people are so desperate to leave Cuba that they’ll risk their lives to do so — or if he wonders why people are forbidden to leave. If the country is as great as the government shills assure him it is, why is it one giant prison?
I’ll excuse the local guy of being a useful idiot. The Times, however, is actively malevolent.