While Fox News anchor Bret Baier led off Wednesday’s Special Report by declaring that the latest shocking revelation about the Iran nuclear deal “sounds like a joke” to congressional critics, ABC’s World News Tonight and CBS Evening News ignored the story completely. Meanwhile, NBC Nightly News only allowed a minute of air time for the breaking news.
Baier informed viewers:
Critics of the President's Iran nuclear deal say the newest development today sounds like a joke. But no one on Capitol Hill is laughing. Iran will get to conduct its own inspections of its own facilities using its own personnel and equipment under one of the side deals between the Islamic republic and the U.N.'s nuclear agency. It's a revelation fueling even more fire against President Obama's legacy nuclear deal with Iran.
In the report that followed, correspondent Kevin Corke declared: “No question this has caused a bit of a political earthquake, one that's being felt from Washington all the way to Tehran.”
Apparently the seismic shockwave did not penetrate the newsrooms of ABC or CBS.
On NBC Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt noted: “There are new revelations tonight about inspections into Iran's nuclear program as the fight rages in Congress, there's word of a secret side deal by international investigators that would essentially allow Iran to use its own inspectors at a suspected nuclear site and that is raising red flags among Republican lawmakers.”
Holt conveniently failed to mention prominent Democrats, like Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez, also opposing the deal.
Chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell delivered administration spin downplaying the development:
Well tonight, Lester, NBC News has confirmed that the UN inspection agency did agree to let Iran inspect itself at one of its most sensitive military complexes, Parchin to clear up past activity there, but two senior officials tell me U.N. inspectors will be on hand supervising the Iranians at every step of the way. Secretary of State Kerry did brief Congress in classified sessions about this secret arrangement, first reported today by the Associated Press. U.S. officials stress this relates to only resolving suspicions of past activity. Inspections of all future activity will be under much more rigorous rules. That said, this concession to Iran is likely to help opponents as they try to kill Iran deal.
None of network morning shows covered the Iran deal on Thursday.
After leading with a nearly three-minute story on the controversy Wednesday night, Special Report also devoted an over eight-minute long panel discussion to the topic later in the show. Columnist Charles Krauthammer ripped the deal:
And now we know why the administration kept it secret. They kept it secret because nobody can believe that the inspection will be carried out by Iran itself....it's obvious when you see this kind of naivete and this kind of capitulation, you have to say to yourself the administration orders were a deal no matter what. The idea that if you oppose this you favor war, I think, is preposterous. This is actually quite scandalous....And that's what makes it important, scandalous and farcical all at once. It's hard to know what further could have been done to make the deal as scandalous as it is.
While Fox News provided over 11 minutes of coverage to the story in one hour, the broadcast networks could only manage one minute in 24 hours.
Here is a full transcript of the August 19 Special Report segment:
6:00 PM ET
BRET BAIER: This is a Fox News alert. I'm Bret Baier in Washington. Critics of the President's Iran nuclear deal say the newest development today sounds like a joke. But no one on Capitol Hill is laughing. Iran will get to conduct its own inspections of its own facilities using its own personnel and equipment under one of the side deals between the Islamic republic and the U.N.'s nuclear agency. It's a revelation fueling even more fire against President Obama's legacy nuclear deal with Iran. Correspondent Kevin Corke is live tonight at the presidential vacation compound on Martha's Vineyard. Good evening, Kevin.
KEVIN CORKE: Bret, good evening to you. No question this has caused a bit of a political earthquake, one that's being felt from Washington all the way to Tehran. Now, as you pointed out, the Associated Press is reporting tonight that a so-called side deal will essentially allow Iran in the P-5+1 nuclear talks to use its own experts to inspect a site, now this is important, allegedly used to develop nuclear arms. That's usually done by the IAEA. That's the International Atomic Energy Agency. But according to the State Department, the way this is all constructed is still consistent with the position that the IAEA will take the lead in investigating Iran's nuclear program.
JOHN KIRBY [STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN]: We're confident in the agency's technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran's former program. Issues that in some cases date back more than a decade. Just as importantly, the IAEA is comfortable with arrangements which are unique to the agency's investigation of Iran's historical activities.
CORKE: The administration and IAEA may be comfortable for their part, but GOP presidential candidate Lindsey Graham certainly is not. He issued a statement that reads in part tonight, quote,"Allowing the Iranians to inspect their own nuclear sites, particularly a notorious military site, is like allowing the inmates to run the jail.” And the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee California Congressman Ed Royce called it a “dangerous farce,” adding quote, "International inspections should be done by international inspectors. Period."
Now, critics, Bret, are asking why, if the administration knew all about this side deal, would they sign off on it anyway? New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez tonight is calling on his colleagues to once again reject that deal.
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ [D-NJ]: So for me, the question is, is this deal put us in a better national security position or not? I believe it doesn't, particularly if there is a violations and we have seen a 20-year history of violations.
CORKE: Now Bret, the White House is saying tonight this deal allows the IAEA what they're calling robust inspections. But just how that will all play out, especially given the parameters in this particular proposal, remains to be seen. Bret?
BAIER: Kevin Corke live on Martha's Vineyard tonight. Kevin, thank you.