Sunday, December 25, 2016

Tactical anonymity

Associated Press on Friday evening, in a story representative of general news reporting that day (and thus likely based on a common briefing) --

Israel knew even before the Egyptian draft resolution that the White House was planning an "ambush" and coordinating it with the Palestinians, said another Israeli official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal diplomatic conversations. Israeli diplomats believe they were misled by the U.S. during a meeting last week between high-ranking Israeli and Obama administration officials in which the U.S. side offered reassurances about its efforts to support Israel but declined to explicitly state that the U.S. would veto such a resolution if it came up. The Israelis told their counterparts that "friends don't take friends to the Security Council," the official said.

Washington Post on Sunday, in a story representative of general news reporting today --

“Over decades, American administrations and Israeli governments had disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue,” [Netanyahu] said. “As I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council.”

So what was on Friday a juicy anonymous zinger-style quote has on Sunday been revealed as coming from Netanyahu himself. One would hope that reporters would connect the changing sourcing and ponder whether the original anonymous sourcing was abused to magnify the faux-outrage of Friday's reaction.

And note again that Netanyahu's antics are detached not just from his actual behavior on Thursday and Friday (he phoned Putin but not Obama) but also from any evidence that the US changed its policy stance on the settlements. Is he simply gambling (like the Iranians) that he can say whatever he wants on Christmas Day and no one will notice?

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