"They never remember to turn off the microphone. In one of the most bizarre stories in recent memory, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama were caught making catty comments about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a 'private' moment at the G20 conference. 'I cannot stand him. He is a liar', declared Sarkozy, speaking to Obama in one of the private rooms but having left his microphone running for all the media to hear. 'You're fed up with him?! remarked Obama, 'I have to deal with him every day!'" (Obama, Sarkozy trash-talk Netanyahu at G20 meeting, Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, 7/11/11)
Very funny, guys, but it looks to me like Bibi's got the last laugh, what with the media taking an oath of omerta:
"The conversation continued for nearly 3 minutes before the microphones were shut off, but incredibly went mostly uncovered by major media outlets in the wake of the conference. Reports that the members of the media on-hand were made to sign an agreement not to report the story have not been confirmed, but one journalist present said there was a 'discussion' held after the gaffe and everyone 'agreed not to publish the comments due to the sensitivity of the issue'. The bumbling attempt at covering it up worked for a few days, with no major outlet covering the scandal after the Thursday talks. They only came to light today when media watchdog Arret sur images covered the gaffe, along with the efforts to 'intimidate' the press into not covering it. Incredibly, those present were quick to confirm that they were cowed into not covering it." (ibid)
How does he do it?
Well, this recent, inadvertently leaked, email from the director of the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre (BICOM), intended for donors' eyes only, informed us, in part, that:
"Throughout the weekend, BICOM staff were in contact with a whole host of BBC and SKY news desks and journalists, ensuring that the most objectively favourable line was taken, and offering talking heads, relevant to the stories unfolding'. BICOM's Senior Analyst Dr. Noam Leshem, briefed the BBC World News Editorial Board on Saturday afternoon regarding the fall-out from the Israel Egyptian Embassy siege. After contact with the BICOM Media Team, SKY News changed their narrative in explaining the prior events in the region which led up to this weekend, eventually acknowledging that both Egyptian AND Israelis were killed in Sinai a fortnight ago."
"BICOM has one of BBC News' key anchors on a bespoke delegation. When planning her very first trip to the region, Sophie Long got in touch with BICOM to see if we could help her out with meetings in the region. Sophie is now spending 3 days of her trip with Bicom Israel, taking a tour around the Old City, meeting Mark Regev and Dr. Alex Yacobsen, as well as visiting Ramallah and Sderot."
"I briefed Jonathan Ford, the Financial Times leader writer for his upcoming leading article in tomorrow's paper. BICOM had regular contact with the Editor at Large of Prospect Magazine, David Goodhart, helping to inform him about the forthcoming UN vote on Palestinian statehood." (For the complete email, see This is how Israel runs the British press, Gilad Atzmon, gilad.co.uk, 6/11/11)
Ah, but it couldn't possibly be that way here, now could it?
PS: Unbelievable reader interest in Fairfax's online reports about the G20 gaffe: at around 8:35 am, 9/11, 534 people were reading The Age report, and 576 the SMH report.