Switching Sides

10.21.13

Another Journalist Joins the Obama Administration

Former Washington Post writer Laura Blumenfeld on Monday became the latest in a long list of journalists who have joined the Obama administration when she took up an appointment in the State Department’s Middle East office.

A speaker of Arabic and Hebrew, Blumenfeld will now be in charge of strategic communications in the State Department’s office handling negotiations for Secretary of State John Kerry’s Middle East Peace Process. Kerry has tapped former Ambassador to Israel and Brookings Institution scholar Martin Indyk to lead that effort inside the Obama administration.

“Laura Blumenfeld started today in Martin Indyk’s office,” an Obama administration official told The Daily Beast. “Her job will be to coordinate all outreach – press, Hill, think tank, and people to people. Laura brings decades of journalism experience to her new job and will be an integral part of our effort to achieve Middle East peace.”

Blumenfeld spent more than a decade at the Post covering presidential politics, the Middle East, and national security, before moving over to work on Middle East issues at the German Marshall Fund, a Washington think tank. She wrote a New York Times best selling book entitled Revenge: A Story for Hope, which chronicled her real life search for the Palestinian gunman who shot her Rabbi father in the head in Jerusalem in 1986.

A Harvard student at the time, Blumenfeld traveled to the West Bank after her father was wounded and located the family of her father’s assailant. Posing as a journalist, she developed a relationship with the gunman’s family and started writing to the gunman in prison. She later revealed her true identity to the gunman at his parole hearing.

“I didn't have any addresses or phone numbers. I just went to the West Bank and kind of went door to door to try to find these families, until I knocked on the right door and his mother welcomed me inside with a glass of orange soda to drink,” she told PBS. “I introduced myself simply as Laura, ‘I'm a journalist writing a book about revenge.’”

With her move, Blumenfeld becomes at least the 16th journalist to join the Obama administration, following shortly after Richard Stengel left his post as managing editor of Time Magazine to become the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy.

Other prominent journalists who have joined Team Obama include White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, formerly of Time, Kerry senior advisor Glen Johnson, who came from the Boston Globe, the State Department’s new assistant secretary for legislative affairs Douglas Frantz, who used to be a national security editor for The Washington Post, and Shailagh Murray, the former Post and Wall Street Journal scribe who is now the communications director for Vice President Joe Biden.