Don’t Be So Sure About Haass, Holbrooke and Ross
Wednesday, January 07, 2009 at 12:06 pm
Marc Ambinder reported this morning that three top diplomats — Richard Haass, Richard Holbrooke and Dennis Ross — will be President-elect Barack Obama’s envoys to various global hellholes: Iran, Israel/Palestine, and Afghanistan/Pakistan/India. He says it’s “confirmed,” but I’ve heard otherwise.
It appears, particularly with Haass, the chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, that this is premature. Maybe it’ll happen — it’s not like I’ve heard otherwise. But as of right now Ambinder is — to use Colin Powell’s elegant phrase when he had to walk back a statement on North Korea in 2001 — a little forward on his skis. On Holbrooke, though, it’s not like this hasn’t been out there, so on that score, at least, Ambinder has company.
Another thing about transition reporting in general: Let me pull back the curtain somewhat. This is rumor-mongering, plain and simple. Speculation passed along three times is counted as fact. Everyone is rushing to scoop everyone else, and it’s not producing solid journalism in many cases. If this reads like I’m singling out Ambinder, an excellent reporter, I don’t mean to. It’s just frustrating to see how much rumor is being passed along as fact, particularly when, in certain cases, many people on the transition are not privy to key decisions.
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