On top of reporting Donald Trump’s apparent knowledge of Fox News’ dirty secrets, Gabriel Sherman’s excellent piece on the Trump campaign contains another bit of media intrigue: The role of Trump’s son-in-law*, New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, in the candidate’s attempts to connect with the American Jewish community. According to Sherman, The Observer’s sitting editor-in-chief, a former Rudy Giuliani speechwriter named Ken Kurson, helped Kushner write the speech Trump delivered last month at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference:
[Jared Kushner] helped plan Trump’s trip to Israel last December, though it didn’t go exactly as planned. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Trump’s proposal to halt Muslim immigration, Trump canceled the trip. “This was all your idea!” Trump scolded his son-in-law, according to a source. He fared better with Trump’s AIPAC speech, which Kushner wrote with input from Observer editor Ken Kurson. It was one of the most subdued of his public statements so far, perhaps because it was the only one he has read from a Teleprompter.
The speech Trump gave at AIPAC was unusual in that it contained criticism of the sitting president’s policies toward the State of Israel—which is a big no-no for AIPAC, given that one of its central goals is maintaining a bipartisan consensus about American-Israeli relations. But the speech otherwise touched on the talking points GOP leaders have repeated in the same setting, such as the Republican Party’s long-discussed plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:
We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem—and we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel.
When asked about Sherman’s report, Kurson told Gawker that he “read a draft” of the speech, but did not respond to questions about whether or not he had a role in altering its contents. (Let’s note here the irony of Trump’s camp turning to the editor of the Observer, which was edited in the 1990s by master Trump antagonist Graydon Carter.)
It’s not as if Kurson views on Israel or Obama are secret or unknown, though. In a 2010 post on Facebook, Kurson criticized the current administration’s admonishment of Israel’s decision, in March of that year, to grant construction permits for 1,600 new housing units designated for Israeli Jews in East Jerusalem, which is considered disputed territory under international law:
Ken Kurson on US-Israel relations pic.twitter.com/C4sYVd5w— John Cook (@johnjcook) January 4, 2013
Kurson’s views toward Israel are also widely reflected in The Observer’s coverage of the country, its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which seeks to place pressure on the State of Israel to comply with international law.
Whatever Kurson’s role may be, The Observer did not think it was important enough to disclose to its readers. The paper’s write-up of Trump’s AIPAC speech, published on March 21, contains no disclosure about the fact that Kurson had seen a draft of the speech beforehand.
* Correction: This post originally identified Jared Kushner as Donald Trump’s grandson-in-law. In fact, Kushner is Trump’s son-in-law. (Thanks to Matt for pointing our error out.)