It’s A Bird… It’s A Plane… It’s Not Superman On a Nantucket Boat Or How to Make a Non-News Into Big News

— By Domani Spero

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Doha, New Delhi, Jeddah, Kuwait City, Amman, Jerusalem, and Bandar Seri Begawan from June 21 to July 2.  While overseas, he spoke about the events in Egypt during the press availability in Tel Aviv on June 30 but not during his stop in Brunei on July 1.  He had no public schedule on July 3. 

On July 3, @Mosheh@CBSThisMorning Senior Producer twitted this:

Screen Shot 2013

The State Department responded that Secretary Kerry was not aboard a boat on Wednesday and has spent the day working the phones on Egypt. Via politico.com:

“Since his plane touched down in Washington at 4 a.m., Secretary Kerry was working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “He participated in the White House meeting with the president by secure phone and was and is in non-stop contact with foreign leaders, and his senior team in Washington and Cairo. Any report or tweet that he was on a boat is completely inaccurate.”

Ms. Psaki made it sound as if he was Superman with no need for rest.

The same afternoon, U.S. Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff was quoted by CNN saying “there will be consequences” if Egyptian military intervention is “badly handled.”  Later in the evening, the AP reported on Egypt military chief’s statement announcing President Morsi’s ouster.

On July 4, 2013, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey sang the National Anthem at the Washington Nationals versus Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park.

Then this happened. Ugh!

Screen Shot 2013

Screen Shot 2013

Look, the Joint Chiefs was in a ball game on July 4th when Egypt had its revolution, coup, or whatever you agree to call it.  Did anyone complain that he was not glued to his secret phone?  Secretary Kerry just came back from a 12-day trip. We think people would have understood that he needed some down time. Did we really expect him to be holding the phone line to Egypt when DOD has more influence than DOS there? We certainly did not.

When CBS tweeted/reported/asked whether the secretary was on the boat, the appropriate response from the State Department professionals should have been the truth.   Had they said “yes” that would have been the end of the story.  Backlash? Really. Would the public really begrudge its public officials needed rest as if they were Superman?

Secretary Kerry on his boat would have been a very short-lived news.  Instead, the spinsmiesters contorted themselves with crafting a statement about how the secretary “was working all day” on Egypt and how the report is “completely inaccurate.”  Not even leaving a sliver of chance for error or confusion there.  Caught in a lie, the Spokesperson of the State Department had to release another statement acknowledging her boss “was briefly on his boat.”  Self-inflicted. Made their own mountain out of a mole hill.

“While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday, Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day including participating in the President’s meeting with his national security council,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, naming a series of Egyptian and international officials Kerry had spoken with on Wednesday.

CBS News was “completely inaccurate” because it did not mention “briefly?”

Perhaps the State Department statement should have included the line, “Any official report or official tweet denying that he was on a boat is completely inaccurate.”  A public  apology would have been nice, but government officials no longer do that, do they?

On July 6 , Secretary Kerry released a statement addressing the violence in Egypt.

But wait, there’s more!

Also on July 6, the Office of the Spokesperson tried to make it better by releasing the following statement:

Over the days since the unrest in Egypt intensified, Secretary Kerry has been in constant contact with the national security team, regional partners, and his counterparts. In addition to participating in a secure call with the National Security Council today to review the very fluid situation in Egypt, he has been in hourly touch with Ambassador Patterson and in the last two days he has also spoken with Mohamed Elbaradei, Qatari Foreign Minister al-Attiyah, Omani Sultan Qaboos, Emirati Foreign Minister bin Zayed, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu.

In all these calls with his counterparts, Secretary Kerry reiterated the call for the violence in Egypt to cease and for all parties — the Muslim Brotherhood, opposition, and military — to ensure that those expressing their views do so peacefully. Secretary Kerry also reaffirmed U.S. support for democracy and the protection of universal human rights for all Egyptians, reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people, and respect for the rule of law. He stressed that the United States wants to see Egypt’s civilian transition succeed, and that the United States will do all it can to help encourage that effort.

Double ugh!

Folks,  you forgot, “Thou shall not get caught.” Now, apologize and move on or no dinner tonight!

Unless you folks want to release Secretary Kerry’s log calls, too, so we can count how many manhours he really spent working on Egypt.

👀

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