Nets Tougher on Pence Than Iranian Propagandist Zarif

Listen to the Article!

During interviews with all three broadcast networks on Wednesday and Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence was confronted with hostile interrogations over the U.S. killing of Iranian terrorist Qasem Soleimani. In sharp contrast, NBC, ABC, and CBS have all treated Iran’s Foreign Minister and chief propagandist Mohammad Zarif to softball exchanges in which his anti-American pronouncements have largely gone unchallenged.

On NBC’s Today show on Thursday, co-host Savannah Guthrie began her conversation with Pence by bizarrely trying to give Iran credit for not killing any Americans during its missile attacks against U.S. military bases in Iraq: “Some U.S. officials have said they believe Iran was shooting to miss, in other words, not kill anybody. Do you think that Iran deliberately avoided U.S. casualties?”

 

 

After Pence noted that Iran did intend to kill American, Guthrie seemed taken aback: “...you just said something remarkable, that you believe that Iran was shooting to kill, trying to go after U.S. Forces.” She then tried to blame the administration for “allowing” Iran to launch the missiles: “Was it incredibly risky for the U.S. to allow Iran, essentially, take the shot?”

Later in the contentious discussion, the morning show anchor feared that U.S. actions only served to antagonize Iran: “I mean Foreign Minister Zarif said in a tweet that those missile attacks concluded its actions with regard to this matter, but are you confident that Iran is really done with this? Don’t you think they’re even more hungry for revenge now?”

Talking to Pence on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos hyped how some members of Congress didn’t think that Soleimani presented a danger to the U.S. and “walked out of those briefings saying they didn’t see anything new, they didn’t see convincing evidence of an imminent threat.”

The host then demanded of the Vice President: “Can you provide more convincing evidence to the public to convince them that there was, indeed, an imminent threat?”

In an interview with Pence aired on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Norah O’Donnell worried: “Iran’s supreme leader called the attack a slap in the face. But are you worried a punch in the gut may be around the corner?...how concerned are you that Iran is now going to begin a covert war?”

Near the end of the discussion, she engaged in more hand-wringing over Soleimani’s death and suggested it was a reckless action:

Everybody who’s related to one of those soldiers stationed in the Middle East is worried. Are we safer now?...One might say that taking out Soleimani is like taking a baseball bat to a hornet’s nest, and those hornets are Iranian proxies, proxy groups. Are you convinced that they won’t come after Americans?

Now compare that tough questioning that Pence received to the easy, non-judgmental treatment Zarif was granted during CBS and ABC interviews on Tuesday. Hours prior to Iran’s ineffectual missile attacks, CBS correspondent Elizabeth Palmer was eager to know “when” the totalitarian regime would hit the U.S. Meanwhile, ABC’s chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz assured viewers that Zarif “insisted that any attacks would be on legitimate targets.”

Back in August of 2019, during a trip to Tehran, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt sat down with Zarif and wondered if “Iran would act militarily to end this stranglehold,” referring to U.S. economic sanctions on the rogue regime.

Notice that there were no questions about Iran’s abysmal human rights record or support for terrorism around the world. Meanwhile, the Vice President is forced to defend the decision to take out a terrorist who had the blood of hundreds of U.S. troops and scores of Iranian citizens on his hands.

Here are the questions put to Pence by Guthrie on the January 9 Today show:

7:05 AM ET

(...)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let me start with these Iranian strikes against U.S. air bases. Some U.S. officials have said they believe Iran was shooting to miss, in other words, not kill anybody. Do you think that Iran deliberately avoided U.S. casualties?

(...)

GUTHRIE: Let me ask you about that, because you just said something remarkable, that you believe that Iran was shooting to kill, trying to go after U.S. Forces. You’ve also said in previous interviews that the U.S. did have some warning that these missiles were coming, and presumably intelligence. Was it incredibly risky for the U.S. to allow Iran, essentially, take the shot? I know the personnel at these bases were told to hunker down, shelter in place. But the U.S. has capability to stop a ballistic missile in its tracks. Was it risky to let them take that shot?

(...)

GUTHRIE: Now, you’ve talked about this imminent attack and the Secretary of State has said that Iran talked about it as a big attack. You’ve talked about how Soleimani, this notorious terrorist Iranian leader, is off the battlefield. As for this imminent attack that you and the administration say was hours, days, weeks away, is it totally eradicated now? In other words, Soleimani wasn’t going to be the one strapping on a suicide vest or pressing go on a missile. Now that he’s gone, is that particular threat gone?

(...)

GUTHRIE: Yeah, I was going to ask you, I mean Foreign Minister Zarif said in a tweet that those missile attacks concluded its actions with regard to this matter, but are you confident that Iran is really done with this? Don’t you think they’re even more hungry for revenge now? That it just goes underground?

(...)

GUTHRIE: I’m short on time. On this issue of intelligence, as you know, the congressional leaders had a briefing yesterday on what it was, this imminent threat that was posed that justified the killing, and Senator Mike Lee, a Republican, left that briefing and said it was demeaning and insulting, said it was the worst briefing he’d ever heard and that he didn’t get the information he needed. Why not, in a classified setting, can our briefers from this administration share what it was, this threat that you talk about, in a classified setting?

(...)

GUTHRIE: And then just one final question, because you are talking about the evidence, the strength of the evidence, the intelligence that you have seen but that is not available to the public. You know, the President, as you well know, has been vocally dismissive of our intelligence agencies. In fact, in a tweet earlier this year he called our Iran intelligence in particular “passive and naive” and said perhaps they “should go back to school.” But he now he says he wants the U.S. public to trust the intelligence. Does he himself have a different view now of our intelligence?

(...)

Here are the questions Pence faced on the January 9 GMA:

7:04 AM ET

(...)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We just heard Ian Pannell say that pro-Iranian militias are looking for revenge and intelligence officials briefing members of Congress have warned that U.S. troops in the region could face more of a threat now from those militias. That threat is very real, isn’t it?

(...)

STEPHANOPOULOS: We all are grateful for no casualties in that attack. As you know, there’s been some harsh criticism, even from some of the President’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, about the quality of information provided to Congress. Conservative Senator Mike Lee called it probably the worst briefing, yesterday, he’s ever gotten. Let’s listen.

(...)

[Plays clip of Lee]

STEPHANOPOULOS: That debate is going to happen in Congress today. Are members of Congress who are debating the President’s War Powers Act emboldening Iran and how do you respond to Senator Lee?

(...)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that has left you in a bit of a bind, hasn’t it? Because as you know many other members of Congress have walked out of those briefings saying they didn’t see anything new, they didn’t see convincing evidence of an imminent threat. Can you provide more convincing evidence to the public to convince them that there was, indeed, an imminent threat?

(...)

Here are the questions asked of Pence on the January 8 CBS Evening News:

6:39 PM ET

(...)

NORAH O’DONNELL: Iran’s supreme leader called the attack a slap in the face. But are you worried a punch in the gut may be around the corner?

(...)

O’DONNELL: I heard that, and the President saying that Iran is standing down. But how concerned are you that Iran is now going to begin a covert war?

(...)

O’DONNELL: So what is the strategy in Iran? And is regime change the ultimate strategy?

(...)

O’DONNELL: You were there in the situation room last night with the President and other top national security officials. Thankfully, no American lives lost. Did we get lucky, or did the Iranians intentionally miss?

(...)

O’DONNELL: Were we warned in advance?

(...)

O’DONNELL: Everybody who’s related to one of those soldiers stationed in the Middle East is worried. Are we safer now?

(...)

O’DONNELL: One might say that taking out Soleimani is like taking a baseball bat to a hornet’s nest, and those hornets are Iranian proxies, proxy groups. Are you convinced that they won’t come after Americans?

(...)

O’DONNELL: But he didn’t act alone, as you know. He acted at the blessing and with the blessing, I should say, of the Ayatollah, the supreme leader.

(...)

NB Daily Foreign Policy Middle East Iran Conservatives & Republicans ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Savannah Guthrie George Stephanopoulos Norah O'Donnell Mike Pence

Sponsored Links