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AP journo tweaks State Department over stance on Palestinians - Josh Gerstein -

I've noted before how, for whatever reason, the State Department press corps often seems more confrontational and assertive than the White House press contingent. Another illustration of the State press corps' different model came Monday as Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee challenged State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland over the department's assertion that it was inappropriate for Palestinian representatives to seek recognition as a state from the U.N. cultural body UNESCO and her argument that it would be sensible for the U.S. to pull out of a related intellectual-property organization if the Palestinians receive state status there. "I used to think that this government, my government, had some intellect itself, but this just seems ridiculous. You are going to oppose them in some kind of international weather organization as well? The Civil Aviation Organization?" Lee asked. When Nuland said the U.S. was applying the same position to all U.N. agencies, Lee countered incredulously: "You can — you think that there is somewhere — somewhere in this building that someone can draw a intellectually responsible and acceptable argument that membership in the World Intellectual Property Organization should not be granted to the Palestinians because they are not a state, because their intellectual property, because they're not a state, is somehow less deserving of protection than anyone else's, including the Syrians, including whoever else?" After a bit more let-me-finish sparring, Nuland slapped back with: "Are you asking me a question that you'd like me to answer, or are you just going to have an argument with me today?" Text of the full exchange after the jump. Full briefing text here. And video here. UPDATE: Several Lee fans, including some pro-Israel voices, have rallied to Lee's defense on Twitter after some suggested he might have a pro-Palestinian bent. "Matt Lee is a bulldozer. Only agenda is 2 make podium squirm & report news," former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block tweeted, comparing Lee to veteran AP State newsman Barry Schweid. Indeed, at Tuesday's briefing, Lee gave Nuland so much grief over the lack of any State Department punishment for the Palestinians' defiance of U.S. wishes that the spokeswoman got grumpy. "Is there a question here, Matt, or is this a speech? ... I'm serious, really," she said. "Well, I'm serious, too. It just seems to me that there's a profound lack of critical and intelligent thinking going on to this," Lee replied.


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Matthew Lee


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Associated Press, State Department reporter

Agence France Presse, 2005-1007

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Georgetown University, 1985-1989
Undergraduate Studies
Field of Study: International Relations

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