Jun
11
2014

Crossfire Clueless on Israeli Occupation

cnn-crossfire-occupationCNN's Crossfire is ostensibly a debate between the left and the right. But the show's debate (6/9/14) over Hillary Clinton's new book  show how the format can become meaningless and the discussions turn senseless.

The host from the right, S.E. Cupp, spotted something in the book to attack:

I've read the chapter in her book on Israel, and let me tell you, there is a doozy in there. Let me just read. She writes of her first visit to Israel, "I got my first glimpse of life under occupation for Palestinians who are denied the dignity and self-determination that Americans take for granted."

Now, I'm sure I don't have to remind anyone at this table that Chris Christie had to apologize for using similar language about Palestinian occupation. Is Hillary Clinton going to apologize to Israel for using that same language?

There is just one problem with demanding an apology over this: The West Bank is currently under Israeli occupation. This was true whenever Clinton made her first visit. So the CNN host is demanding to know whether Clinton will apologize for saying something perfectly accurate.

Too bad Crossfire's leftists couldn't just say so. Tracy Sefl of the Ready for Hillary PAC responded by saying she hadn't read the book, but that Clinton had "expanded the notion of diplomacy in the State Department to include an incredibly important set of issues which have to do with women and girls." Cupp interrupted this bizarre non-answer to ask again whether Clinton  "owe(s) Israel an apology," which led to this exchange:

SEFL: Hillary Clinton is going to stand by the words in her book. She is not going to apologize for something she need not apologize for.

CUPP: She believes the Palestinian territories are occupied, then?

SEFL: She will be making that point as she, herself, should.

CUPP: So then you think that she believes that the Palestinian territory is occupied? She's not going to apologize for that, and she asserted that on purpose?

SEFL: I'm sure that when we all actually read the book and listen to her give these interviews, her words will stand for themselves.

CNN's host from the left, Paul Begala, chimed in to say, "I am unapologetically pro-Israel, and Hillary is very, very strong on this."

Indeed, those who have questioned whether the pundits who play the left on Crossfire are really on the left may have noticed that Begala cheered Clinton's hawkish stance on Iran (She "is the reason we have sanctions on Iran"), said he was "wearing my knees out praying" she runs for president, and played a clip of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praising Clinton to illustrate her commitment to Israeli security.

The guest from the right, meanwhile–Tim Miller–was the one who raised questions about Clinton's ties to Wall Street, arguing that these will be a problem with the party's liberal base:

I just think this is going to be a tough sell for her. I mean, Hillary Clinton is going to have the closest ties to Wall Street out of the candidate in either party. She was getting paid $200,000 per speech by the biggest Wall Street firm. So the idea she's going to be able to tap into this Elizabeth Warren populist movement is pretty ridiculous.

So the left critique of Clinton came from the right. The CNN version of the left had this retort: "What is this, Russia? We're not allowed to get rich anymore?"

Corrected version.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.