Behold the Washington-speak:
For example, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), often described as the most influential pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington, "took no position on this matter and did not lobby the Hill on it," spokesman Josh Block said.
But Block responded to reporters' questions and provided critical material about Freeman, albeit always on background, meaning his comments could not be attributed to him, according to three journalists who spoke to him. Asked about this yesterday, Block replied: "As is the case with many, many issues every day, when there is general media interest in a subject, I often provide publicly available information to journalists on background."
Greenwald notes how Block's games - now you see me, now you don't - corrupt our discourse:
Reporters agreed to keep AIPAC's "private" involvement a secret by allowing them to do everything "on background," and -- far worse -- then allowed what they knew to be the false impression to be created that AIPAC had no involvement in the campaign.
Instead of the truth, what we have is AIPAC insinuating (through Mark Mazzetti's article) and Fred Hiatt outright stating that Freeman's accusations of AIPAC's involvement are false and deranged -- all because journalists concealed AIPAC's involvement by agreeing to keep it all off the record and therefore pretending it didn't exist.
I don't understand why Block and AIPAC can't lobby against an appointment in public, in the light of day, and for attribution. Even in my own emails with Block, there was an absurd kabuki dance of 'on the record', 'background' and the like. This is not national security: you're a fricking lobby. What are you so touchy about?
There's a sad dynamic here. The partly rational paranoia of some Jewish groups leads to excessive secrecy which feeds the partly rational paranoia of others. A little less background and anonymity and a little more Schumer-style grandstanding would actually be healthier. And a little more honest.