No One Really Believes John Kerry’s Hot Mic Moment Was Unintentional


Secretary of State John Kerry made an uh-oh yesterday when he was caught by a hot Fox News Sunday microphone criticizing the Israeli ground incursion into Gaza.

That’s if you believe he was actually “caught.” Here’s Palestine Center executive director Yousef Munayyer, a couple hours after the hot-mic incident:

Go on.

Here’s the Morning Joe crew Monday morning not buying Kerry’s act for a moment:

“I think John Kerry’s spent an awful lot of time in television studios over the last forty years. He’s pretty aware of what a hot mic is.”

This is known in the business as “pulling a Jed Bartlet” (all right, not really), from a West Wing episode in which Bartlet “accidentally” criticized his electoral opponent between television interviews while knowing full well that he was still being taped.

Kerry sorta-kinda has a history of this. The most public example may be when he mused in a press conference last fall that the only way Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid American missile strikes was by “turn[ing] over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.”

Kerry’s tone was pie-in-the-sky, but the suggestion was immediately seized by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, at which point the U.S. was forced to take the idea seriously — which many speculate was Kerry’s intention all along. Sure enough, the final batch of Syria’s chemical weapons was destroyed last month, and the eradication of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile was listed yesterday as one of the Obama administration’s primary foreign policy achievements by none other than John Kerry.

This isn’t even the first time Kerry’s been overheard about Israel. In April he told a closed-door gathering of world leaders that Israel risked becoming “an apartheid state,” a comment recorded by the Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin.

There is, of course, no confirmation that any of this was intentional. But the pattern suggests John Kerry knows that the best way to say what he wants to say is to act like he didn’t mean to say it at all.

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