Showing the same crack journalistic instincts that it did with the Eason Jordan scandal, the New York Times “breaks” the story of Charles Freeman’s resignation … without ever having reported that Freeman’s appointment had generated controversy. If readers relied solely on the Gray Lady, they must have found themselves stunned to see the Obama administration appointment suddenly implode:
Charles W. Freeman Jr., the Obama administration’s choice for a major intelligence post, withdrew his name on Tuesday and blamed pro-Israel lobbying groups, saying they had distorted his record and campaigned against him.
Mr. Freeman had come under sharp criticism for his past statements about Israel as well as for his association with the Saudi and Chinese governments.
Mr. Freeman’s withdrawal from consideration as chairman of the National Intelligence Council came just hours after Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, vigorously defended him and said that his comments had been taken out of context.
That comes as news to readers of the Paper of Record, too. They never covered Freeman’s remarks, nor did they cover Blair’s defense of them. The Times also never reported on Freeman’s connections to the Chinese and the Saudis, nor on his public backing of national ID cards after 9/11, which when reported elsewhere had civil libertarians on both sides questioning his appointment.
In fact, for those who only read the NYT, the first three paragraphs of their report on Freeman all demonstrate that the editors have deliberately blacked out this issue until Freeman’s resignation. They did the same with the Eason Jordan affair four years ago, which I extensively covered.
The NYT at least covers the tenor of Freeman’s valediction, although one has to read them verbatim to understand how badly Blair and the Obama administration fumbled this appointment, emphasis mine:
I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country. I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.
That’s a particularly unsubtle reference to the Joooooooooos, and to the secret Jewish conspiracy to control foreign policy, and of course to the unpatriotic nature of his critics. It ignores the objections to his Tiananmen Square analysis (that the Chinese took too long to stomp on the protesters) and his connections to CNOOC, which seemed to do more damage on Capitol Hill than anything else. That’s just what we needed on the National Intelligence Council: a wallower in paranoid conspiracy theories. Who will they pick to replace him — Philip Berg?