Was Mark Jacobs’ Gaffe on Iraq & Iran Headline Material?

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The Des Moines Register editorial board interviewed Republican U.S. Senate hopeful, Mark Jacobs, today.  Apparently when discussion foreign policy he made a gaffe and Jennifer Jacobs of The Des Moines Register reported “Iowa U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Jacobs mixes up Iraq, Iran.”

Mark Jacobs was asked by one of the editorial writers about how he would have viewed military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time:

Jacobs, a wealthy former energy company CEO, answered: “I think these are instances of, we led from behind and we allowed small crises to become big crises by not being engaged in them up front. I think with Iraq, it’s clear to me that we cannot let Iraq get a nuclear bomb. Syria, it’s less clear to me that it fits into the criteria we talked about of, is that directly tied to our national security interests or to our economic interests or our allies.”

A Register news editor asked Jacobs if he meant “Iran” when he said “Iraq.”

“I did, I’m sorry,” he said. “Thank you.”

First, let me point out that I like Jennifer Jacobs.  I think that for the most part she’s fair, not perfect, but certainly far more balanced than other reporters I’ve seen in mainstream media.  Second, I think most of my regular readers will know that I am not Mark Jacobs’ biggest fan.  So keeping those two things in mind I wanted to comment.

It seems to me that either Mark Jacobs totally avoided the question as described by Jacobs, Jennifer Jacobs reported the question wrong, or we are missing context.  I’ll admit I haven’t watched the video, my internet wasn’t cooperating with me this evening, so perhaps doing so would clear this up.  It is clear that Mark Jacobs is tying military intervention to today’s potential scenarios rather than decisions made back in 2001.

Another thing that jumped out at me is this line – “Jacobs, a wealthy former energy company CEO,…” Wealthy?  Why add that?  Isn’t that implied when you see “energy company CEO?”  Also what difference does it make that he was wealthy in regards to the story itself.

Last point… Mark Jacobs was asked to clarify – “did you mean Iran?”  He said yes, and thanked the news editor for pointing it out.  It was a simple gaffe, not necessarily demonstrative of a fundamental misunderstanding of what is currently taking place in the Middle East.  If he would have said “no” then you have a story because then it would be clear he doesn’t have a handle on the issue.

This, however, isn’t newsworthy let alone headline material.

I’d love to go back and check the archives to see if Jennifer Jacobs reported on President Obama visiting 57 states.  Somehow I doubt that she or anyone at The Des Moines Register did.

Stories like this does not help Iowans decide between candidates, focus on issues, not on innocent gaffes that anyone could make.

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