Fox News’s website blatantly misquoted State Department spokesman Mark Toner in a press briefing yesterday in Foggy Bottom. The Fox News report, which lists the Associated Press as a contributor, says Toner called a vote for the Palestinian statehood recognition bid at the U.N. an “anti-Israel vote.” The Fox story says:
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday the U.S. continues to see any kind of effort by the Palestinians at the U.N. gathering in New York as “counterproductive.”
He said a vote for Palestinian statehood is an “anti-Israel vote.”
But at the press briefing, Toner was asked repeatedly whether or not the U.S. considered voting for the Palestinian statehood recognition resolution to be “anti-Israel.” He failed to respond several times, but then said it was “not a zero-sum game.” Pressed on it, Toner seemed to say that the administration did not, in fact, consider voting for the resolution to be “anti-Israel.”
The relevant portion of the briefing transcript says:
QUESTION: But do — I understand that, but do you think that a vote for recognition of Palestine as a state is an anti-Israel vote?
MR. TONER: And I will —
QUESTION: Is this — in other words, is this, in fact, a zero-sum game?
MR. TONER: It’s not a zero-sum game. It’s — what it is is it’s not conducive to –
QUESTION: Then the Administration does not agree that it is an anti-Israel –
MR. TONER: It is not — no. What I’m saying is this is not going to lead to progress in peace negotiations, direct negotiations. And so we believe it’s counterproductive, that it’s not in the interest of either of the parties, and our goal, therefore, remains in getting them back to the — into negotiations, and that’s what we’re pursuing on the ground in Tel Aviv.
QUESTION: Okay. But you don’t see this vote — you don’t see a country voting in favor of a Palestinian resolution to be anti-Israel?
MR. TONER: Again, I’m not going to characterize what a –
QUESTION: Well, let me get to the reason why I’m asking the question…
Watch the video of the whole exchange here:
While it’s not precisely clear that Toner’s remark that “It is not — no” was a response to the reporter’s question, it’s absolutely clear that at no point does Toner say that a vote for the Palestinian initiative is “anti-Israel.” He repeatedly refused to answer the question. By saying the situation did not constitute “zero-sum game,” Toner implied that supporting the Palestinian position was not by default “anti-Israel.” Toner then made a statement suggesting that, no, the administration did not view voting for the Palestinian resolution as anti-Israel.
Fox News should correct its report and apologize to Toner for so egregiously misquoting him.