Like the old joke, “Franco is still dead,” the New York Times is still mum on the Chas Freeman nomination. Aside from an automated response, Clark Hoyt, the public editor previously charged with explaining why the Times didn’t report for weeks on the Reverend Wright story, hasn’t responded to my inquiry as to why the Times remains mute.
However, the rest of the journalistic and political world is not cooperating with the Times‘ apparent desire to shove this issue under the rug. The pro-Freeman forces have taken to arguing that his egregious comments, on Tienanmen Square for example, have been taken out of context. Not so. He also assembled on odd grab bag of weird characters to “endorse” him. Probably not a sound move if you are trying to convince people you are not a questionable character yourself.
Then Ira Forman, head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, weighs in, taking the pro-Freeman forces to task for playing the “patriot” card against Freeman’s critics. Forman can’t quite bring himself to call them out for perpetuating a virulent anti-Semitic canard or ignoring the legion of objections against Freeman from diverse groups including Chinese dissidents, but at least his heart is in the right place.
Then earlier today we had a hearing of the Senate Armed Service Committee. Sen. Joe Lieberman raised the Freeman nomination and cited some of the concerns which had been raised. Again Admiral Dennis Blair played the “taken out of context” card, which Lieberman was not buying. (Curious, isn’t it, that Blair and the left-wing net-roots are operating from the same script?) Lieberman ended his questioning by advising Blair that the concern was over Freeman having “such strong policy views” that he might not be suited for an analyst role. He told Blair the controversy was not likely “to go away.” Lieberman called the controversial comments by Freeman “very decisive” and ended with the words “to be continued.”
Indeed it will — everywhere except on the pages of the New York Times.