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NY Times Issues Correction on Key Fact in Netanyahu Speech Coverage

A correction published in The New York Times on Friday shows that a key report was mistaken in earlier reporting on Israeli Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu’s acceptance of House Speaker John Boehner’s (R – Ohio) invitation to address a joint session of Congress in March. This, despite the fact that Boehner’s office released a detailed timeline two days earlier. The report played a central role in the widespread controversy that ensued about the propriety of Netanyahu’s acceptance of the invitation.

The original article reported that Netanyahu had explained why he accepted the invitation from Boehner “without first notifying the White House.”

The correction states that the White House had indeed been informed prior to Netanyahu’s acceptance.

An earlier version of this article misstated when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accepted Speaker John A. Boehner’s invitation to address Congress. He accepted after the administration had been informed of the invitation, not before.

Boehner’s office released a timeline of the sequence of events leading to the invitation on Wednesday, two days before the Times article appeared. (The significant phrases are highlighted.)

  • On the afternoon of January 20, the day of the State of the Union, we informed Ambassador Dermer of our intent to issue the invitation and our intent to notify the administration of the invitation. He accepted and acknowledged our intent to do so.

  • On the morning of January 21, after notifying the administration, the Speaker issued the invitation to the Prime Minister and announced it to the public. “In this time of challenge,” Boehner said, “I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.”

Commentator Ed Lasky observed that previously “[i]n 2011, Boehner sent a notice to the [White House] stating his intention to invite Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress. The White House never responded … and Boehner proceeded to extend the invitation to Netanyahu. Netanyahu accepted the invitation and spoke.”

In a speech last Sunday, Israeli Ambassador to the United States defended Netanyahu’s decision to accept Boehner’s invitation as fulfilling his “deepest moral obligation to appear before the Congress to speak about an existential issue facing the one and only Jewish state.”

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]