Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post followed a significant moment in the Trump administration with a story of unnamed advisers criticizing the move by their boss and touting the left-wing line.

On Wednesday, after President Trump announced the U.S. was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and beginning the process of moving the U.S. embassy there, the Post published a story entitled, “Trump had for months been determined to move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.”

The story begins with Trump approaching Alan Dershowitz at Mar-a-Lago to discuss the Middle East.

“When Trump questioned Dershowitz, a confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, about the region, the president seemed certain about one thing: where he stood on the U.S. Embassy in Israel.”

Trump promised repeatedly during the campaign he would move the embassy, and, unlike the last four Republicans to run for president, he intended to keep the promise.

In the week leading up to the announcement “reversing decades of U.S. policy” Trump heard from supporters and opponents of the move inside and outside the White House.

Virtually all stories from the mainstream media have included some form of the phrase “reversing decades of U.S. policy,” but that is not true.

Congress passed a law in 1995, shortly after Republicans took over the House of Representatives, that called for moving the embassy to Jerusalem as soon as possible unless the president signed a waiver saying the move would be too big a risk to national security.

The president must sign the waiver every six months. Trump reluctantly signed a waiver over the summer because his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who had just begun a peace effort in the Middle East, asked him to hold off to see if progress could be made. With little along those lines to report, Trump decided enough was enough.

“Today,” Trump said, “I am delivering.”

These stories also nearly all include some reference to the fact this honors a campaign pledge – and to cast that notion in a bad light. This was no exception.

“The decisions to shake off warnings from senior officials such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and align himself instead with prominent proponents of the move, including Vice President Pence and major donor Sheldon Adelson, underscored the president’s determination to break with past policy (again, no) and keep a key campaign pledge – despite the potential risks to U.S. interests in the region and the goal of Middle East peace.”

Later, the Post took another shot at Trump’s insistence on delivering on his campaign promises. “Pence, who is to visit Israel this month, told Trump that his base would love the decision, something the president liked to hear,” the story read, again citing unnamed sources.

Anonymous sources also insisted Secretary of Defense James Mattis strongly opposed the move, and Tillerson, “mindful of the death of four Americans in militant attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, ‘pushed back vocally’” because the president’s approach “could unleash a dangerous chain reaction across the region.”

But a Tillerson adviser, R.C. Hammond, went on the record saying Mattis and Tillerson asked only for time to evaluate U.S. outposts and fortify them if necessary.

“It’s insane,” an unnamed Trump confidant said. “We’re all resistant. He doesn’t realize what all he could trigger by doing this.” 

Another unnamed source said, “The decision wasn’t driven by the peace process. The decision was driven by his campaign promise.”

This at least has the merit of being correct. The president knows the peace process has little to report in the way of progress. Campaign promises, on the other hand, seem to actually mean something to him.

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