Preemptive reporting of news that has yet to happen is an irritating phenomenon in and of itself. Accounts about policy statements that yet to be released or about meetings that have yet to take place are transparent ways in which journalists allow themselves to be led by officials who believe that it is a government’s right to control the way its actions are described.
But then there’s a special class of preemptive reporting — reporting things that could conceivably happen but will be less likely to happen if a report itself then prompts a denial. For instance, staff for the Israeli prime minister could describe to an Israeli journalist the worst case scenario of what might result in the upcoming Obama-Netanyahu meeting in the White House. The Israel lobby, duly alerted, will then kick into gear and force White House staff to placate their fears before the meeting has even occurred.
Of course I have no way of knowing whether the following report from Yediot Ahronoth is example of such conniving, but it certainly sounds like it. A translation of the Hebrew article comes from Didi Remez:
The lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip and permission for Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip freely through Israeli border crossings. These are the unequivocal demands that President Barack Obama is expected to make during his meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the White House in two weeks.
If anyone thought that lifting the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip would satisfy the Americans, it is now clear to them that is only the beginning. Reliable sources who have been apprised of the preparations that the White House is making for the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu revealed that the demands are much more significant. While Obama voiced his satisfaction with the relief measures that Israel announced, he believes that the situation in which more than a million and a half inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are living is intolerable.
The American president is particularly angry that the inhabitants are not free to leave the Gaza Strip. He sees that as a kind of “collective punishment.” Political sources say that Netanyahu, who has chosen not to change the situation with the Gaza Strip, now finds himself under a great deal of international pressure and must act under pressure from the United States.
Obama also intends to examine the issue of extending the construction freeze with Netanyahu. It may be assumed that Netanyahu will make a continuation of the construction freeze conditional upon going over to direct talks with Abu Mazen.
But considering the firm demands to be made in the private meetings, White House officials are planning quite a warm reception for Netanyahu. Obama’s advisers are preparing quite a few “photo ops” in which the president and Netanyahu will be seen together in public. According to the plan, they will go out into the Rose Garden, which overlooks Obama’s office, where they will answer questions from the media.
Reliable sources say that one of the reasons for the special effort is requests from Jewish Democrats running in the interim Congressional elections this coming November, who are urging the White House to provide them with “friendly pictures” of Obama and Netanyahu.
So all the lobby needs is a few friendly pictures? No way!