Reporter fesses up to taping Kerry's Israel 'Apartheid' remarks

Rick Moran
Josh Rogin, senior correspondent for national security and politics for The Daily Beast, revealed it was, indeed, he who crashed a meeting of the Trilateral Commission and taped Secretary of State John Kerry saying that Israel could become an "apartheid state."

Rogin decided to own up to his scoop after several media outlets accused him of unethical behavior. In truth, as Rogin explains, no such breach of ethics occurred as he shows how ridiculously easy it was to crash the "no press" event.

I got there early so I parked myself in an empty room near the lobby and finished up another story I was working on. At about 2:30, the time of Kerry’s scheduled remarks, I walked over to the meeting room, walked straight to the front entrance of the room, nodded politely to the staffer at the door (she nodded back) and entered along with dozens of other people who were filing in.

Nobody ever asked me who I was. I didn’t have a name tag but many of the invited attendees weren’t wearing theirs so nobody thought anything of it. As the approximately 200 attendees got settled in for the Kerry speech, I found a seat in the corner, opened up my laptop, placed my recorder on my lap in plain sight, turned it on, and waited for the fun to begin.

A fellow journalist—I won’t say who, but you can read a list of the ones that attended the event here—spotted me in the hallway before the event. We made chit chat and talked about The Trilateral Commission in general terms. He mentioned that he was a member of the Commission. He didn’t ask me if I was a member or was invited and I didn’t volunteer any information either way. I have no idea if he is the “friend” who ratted me out to Joseph Nye.

Kerry stuck mostly to his script, but veered off at times, as he often does. I was focused on his remarks about Ukraine, when he seemed to reveal new information about intelligence collection on Russia and promised new sanctions. (I finished up a story from the room, and attributed Kerry’s remarks to “an attendee,” because there I was. Once I got home and had a chance to listen to the tapes, I sourced Kerry’s remarks to a recording obtained by The Daily Beast.) Kerry’s remarks on Israel were typical for him, until he dropped the now infamous A-bomb.

Rogin is one of the top national security/foreign policy reporters in the country and this little escapade proves it. It took some nerve to waltz into a meeting of a very secret organization and whipping out his laptop and tape recorder.

But didn't Rogin violate ethics in revealing what Kerry said? Not even close:

I’m a reporter. I know the rules and I follow them meticulously. In ten years of reporting for five different top news organizations, I’ve never broken an agreement with an official or a source and I never will. My living is dependent on that reputation and I worked hard to earn it.

If a reporter agrees that a conversation or event is off-the-record, then of course he cannot print what was said during that interchange. But the unwritten rule—the one that directly applies here—is that if a reporter enters an off-the-record event uninvited and has not agreed to the off-the-record terms, he is free to report what happens inside that event. It’s the responsibility of the event organizers to keep reporters from entering events without invitations. As long as the reporter does not misrepresent himself and does not attempt to conceal a recording device, the event is fair game. That’s the rule.

Did I enter the Trilateral Commission event with Kerry, tape it, and then reveal to the world what our Secretary of State is saying to influential world leaders behind closed doors?

Damn right I did.

The fallout from Kerry's "apartheid" crack is still being felt. He may not be forced to resign, but his standing - especially with Democrats - has taken a hit. Considering all his other failures, Kerry should still probably take the hint and step down anyway.

 

Josh Rogin, senior correspondent for national security and politics for The Daily Beast, revealed it was, indeed, he who crashed a meeting of the Trilateral Commission and taped Secretary of State John Kerry saying that Israel could become an "apartheid state."

Rogin decided to own up to his scoop after several media outlets accused him of unethical behavior. In truth, as Rogin explains, no such breach of ethics occurred as he shows how ridiculously easy it was to crash the "no press" event.

I got there early so I parked myself in an empty room near the lobby and finished up another story I was working on. At about 2:30, the time of Kerry’s scheduled remarks, I walked over to the meeting room, walked straight to the front entrance of the room, nodded politely to the staffer at the door (she nodded back) and entered along with dozens of other people who were filing in.

Nobody ever asked me who I was. I didn’t have a name tag but many of the invited attendees weren’t wearing theirs so nobody thought anything of it. As the approximately 200 attendees got settled in for the Kerry speech, I found a seat in the corner, opened up my laptop, placed my recorder on my lap in plain sight, turned it on, and waited for the fun to begin.

A fellow journalist—I won’t say who, but you can read a list of the ones that attended the event here—spotted me in the hallway before the event. We made chit chat and talked about The Trilateral Commission in general terms. He mentioned that he was a member of the Commission. He didn’t ask me if I was a member or was invited and I didn’t volunteer any information either way. I have no idea if he is the “friend” who ratted me out to Joseph Nye.

Kerry stuck mostly to his script, but veered off at times, as he often does. I was focused on his remarks about Ukraine, when he seemed to reveal new information about intelligence collection on Russia and promised new sanctions. (I finished up a story from the room, and attributed Kerry’s remarks to “an attendee,” because there I was. Once I got home and had a chance to listen to the tapes, I sourced Kerry’s remarks to a recording obtained by The Daily Beast.) Kerry’s remarks on Israel were typical for him, until he dropped the now infamous A-bomb.

Rogin is one of the top national security/foreign policy reporters in the country and this little escapade proves it. It took some nerve to waltz into a meeting of a very secret organization and whipping out his laptop and tape recorder.

But didn't Rogin violate ethics in revealing what Kerry said? Not even close:

I’m a reporter. I know the rules and I follow them meticulously. In ten years of reporting for five different top news organizations, I’ve never broken an agreement with an official or a source and I never will. My living is dependent on that reputation and I worked hard to earn it.

If a reporter agrees that a conversation or event is off-the-record, then of course he cannot print what was said during that interchange. But the unwritten rule—the one that directly applies here—is that if a reporter enters an off-the-record event uninvited and has not agreed to the off-the-record terms, he is free to report what happens inside that event. It’s the responsibility of the event organizers to keep reporters from entering events without invitations. As long as the reporter does not misrepresent himself and does not attempt to conceal a recording device, the event is fair game. That’s the rule.

Did I enter the Trilateral Commission event with Kerry, tape it, and then reveal to the world what our Secretary of State is saying to influential world leaders behind closed doors?

Damn right I did.

The fallout from Kerry's "apartheid" crack is still being felt. He may not be forced to resign, but his standing - especially with Democrats - has taken a hit. Considering all his other failures, Kerry should still probably take the hint and step down anyway.