Blitzer Hammers Psaki Over Video Editing Iran Lies; Big Deal to ‘Flat Out Lie to the News Media’

In her first TV interview since the State Department admitted to having intentionally deleted portions of a State Department press briefing, former State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki met the wrath of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Friday afternoon as he minced no words in calling out Psaki and her predecessors for lying about the Iran nuclear agreement. 

“As you know, it's one thing to be discreet and not release all the information to the public for sensitive reasons, whether it's classified or diplomacy or whatever but another thing to flat out lie to the news media and to the American public which is what your predecessor Victoria Nuland did,” Blitzer told Psaki about halfway through their six-minute-plus interview.

On the substance of what Nuland told the Fox News Channel’s James Rosen in February 2013 about there not being negotiations (when there were), Blitzer pressed Psaki to admit that everything was a lie. Psaki, as she did on a daily basis in briefings, dodged and ignored the question: 

Well, Wolf, I think you'd have to speak to my predecessor about that. What I can tell you is that what I was doing, not just that day when this question was asked, the fact is, a week before this, I proactively talked through every aspect of the back channel at the State Department briefing.

She went onto defend the importance of “secrecy” in negotiations, but Blitzer was not amused and played a clip of Rosen and Psaki from December 2013 chiding Rosen for not knowing how diplomatic negotiations often function in secret.

“So, the accusation against you, Jen, and I want to give you a chance to respond is that you were defending that earlier lie from Victoria Nuland,” Blitzer tried in giving Psaki another chance to confess her role in the web of lies.

Once again, Psaki deflected and promised that she was fully transparent: 

Well, again, I think you could speak to Tori or anyone else what she knew or didn’t know about the negotiations. I don’t have that information, but what I was doing then that day and the weeks prior was providing information about the back channel, about the negotiations from the years past. 

In the final question to the now-White House communications director, Blitzer dropped the hammer:

The point being though that it's one thing not to release all of the information you need for national security reasons or diplomacy or whatever. It's another thing to actually lie to the news media and the American public as a result of that. Is it ever justified? This is my final question because I know you got to run. Is it ever justified for a U.S. government spokesperson to lie to the American people?

Psaki didn’t budge and spun that she believes lying to the media and the American people is “a fundamental value that I have always followed as not to and providing as much information as you possibly can.”

While the “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC have only dedicated one measly news brief to this the admission on Wednesday, CNN and FNC have been all over this with CNN’s Jake Tapper offering a complete and utter evisceration of the Obama State Department during Thursday’s The Lead.

The relevant portions of the transcript from CNN’s Wolf on June 3 can be found below.

CNN’s Wolf
June 3, 2016
1:28 p.m. Eastern

WOLF BLITZER: But Jen, as you know, you worked at the State Department, you’re now at the White House. As you know, it's one thing to be discreet and not release all the information to the public for sensitive reasons, whether it's classified or diplomacy or whatever but another thing to flat out lie to the news media and to the American public which is what your predecessor Victoria Nuland did when she was asked back in 2013, whether or not there were secret, bilateral government-to-government negotiations going on with Iran and she said no. That was a lie, right? 

JEN PSAKI: Well, Wolf, I think you'd have to speak to my predecessor about that. What I can tell you is that what I was doing, not just that day when this question was asked, the fact is, a week before this, I proactively talked through every aspect of the back channel at the State Department briefing. I was also supportive of and involved with the briefing of press and the stories that came out before that, so my role was providing information. I was an advocate of that about the back channel. It was at the time where we could do that because of where the diplomatic negotiations were. There's a long history for decades, again, of not being able to provide information when it's at a sensitive time that could have an impact and that certainly was the case earlier that year. 

BLITZER: But then there was this subsequent, when you were the State Department spokeswoman, subsequent exchange you had with James Rosen of Fox when he asked why Victoria Nuland had lied about those direct, bilateral negotiations. I'll play the clip again. Listen to this.

FNC’s JAMES ROSEN [on 12/02/13]: Is it the policy of the State Department where the preservation of the secrecy of secret negotiations are — is concerned to lie in order to achieve that goal? 

PSAKI [on 12/02/13]: Um, James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. 

BLITZER: So, the accusation against you, Jen, and I want to give you a chance to respond is that you were defending that earlier lie from Victoria Nuland. 

PSAKI: Well, again, I think you could speak to Tori or anyone else what she knew or didn’t know about the negotiations. I don’t have that information, but what I was doing then that day and the weeks prior was providing information about the back channel, about the negotiations from the years past. I do believe, as I said during that exchange that there are certainly times where negotiations and important diplomatic discussions require not briefing the public on what's happening. Not because we don't want to have that conversation with you, Wolf, but because that means all parties are weighing in and becomes a public debate instead of a private negotiation that, as you know from covering these type of negotiations for years, is often needed in order to make progress. 

BLITZER: The point being though that it's one thing not to release all of the information you need for national security reasons or diplomacy or whatever. It's another thing to actually lie to the news media and the American public as a result of that. Is it ever justified? This is my final question because I know you got to run. Is it ever justified for a U.S. government spokesperson to lie to the American people? 

PSAKI: I think that's a fundamental value that I have always followed as not to and providing as much information as you possibly can including being an advocate for one when you can provide more which is exactly what I did in the case of the briefing on the Iraq — on the Iran back channel. 

NB Daily Censorship Foreign Policy Iran Media Bias Debate Political Groups Liberals & Democrats CNN Other CNN Video Government & Press State Department Wolf Blitzer Jen Psaki
Curtis Houck's picture


Sponsored Links