WaPo finally covers the story and finds: “The pushback doesn’t cite any factual errors involving the story’s claims about shut-down investigations and the like”
Politico Magazine published an extensive investigative report by Josh Meyer regarding Obama administration interference in law enforcement efforts to take down the Hezbollah international criminal network in order to appease Iran during the nuclear deal negotations.
We covered the Politico investigation in our post, Obama allowed Hezbollah cocaine running into U.S. in quest for Iran nuke deal. See that post for the details, but here’s the top line from Meyer:
In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.
The Politico report reverberated all over conservative media, but as I noted, there was Mainstream media silence on Politico report that Obama allowed Hezbollah drug running to appease Iran:
So far there is near silence from the mainstream media about the blockbuster Politico Magazine investigative report on how the Obama administration from the top down interfered with U.S. law enforcement efforts to take down Hezbollah’s drug running of cocaine into the U.S. in order to facilitate the Iran nuclear deal.
I cannot find any mentions of the Politico story in any of the major newspapers or networks (except for Fox News). The same people who endlessly repeat shoddy reporting by other mainstream outlets when it comes to anti-Trump conspiracy theories, don’t feel the need to report on the Politico story. My hunch is that they are devoting resources to try to question the Politico story.
That mainstream media silence has mostly continued, though there are some cracks in the cone of silence.
That silence has given the Obama Iran deal boosters, the so-called Iran Deal Echo Chamber put together by Obama aide Ben Rhodes, time to figure out how to attack the story.
The attack has been to call it a right wing conspiracy. At Politico. Seriously.
Ben Rhodes tweeted about the right-wing conspiracy:
There is boundless irony and hypocrisy in how much people who love to sneer at "echo chambers" live entirely inside a perpetual right wing echo chamber of non-fact based anti Iran Deal propaganda. https://t.co/mMw1Zk4Ckv
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) December 20, 2017
So did Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund, which was instrumental in building the “echo chamber” for the Iran deal, called it a “neo con hit piece”:
Detailed, fact-based thread exposes this shabby neocon hit piece ? https://t.co/tPP6HG7pg9
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) December 19, 2017
Tommy Vietor, another Obama message shaper and current podcast star, created the fictional defense that Meyer relied on just two sources, a narrative that has been spread by Obama defenders.
There are many reasonable critiques of Obama's foreign policy. The idea that he was soft on Hezbollah is not one of them. The story is so manufactured out of thin air that it's hard to push back except to say that it's a figment of the imagination of two very flawed sources.
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) December 20, 2017
In fact, Meyer responded, he had dozens of sources:
That's the thing @Tvietor08 your echo chamber keeps saying my @politico piece is wrong but offer zero specifics. I'm gonna take the high road and not respond further until you do. Meantime, happy holidays y'all. Btw, don't you supporters of Iran Deal also have "an obvious POV"? https://t.co/suI1dxnr2G
— Josh Meyer (@JoshMeyerDC) December 21, 2017
— Josh Meyer (@JoshMeyerDC) December 20, 2017
1/ @NedPrice, I'm sorry man but i'm tired of you guys blatantly lying about my work. Seriously, it's beneath you, @BRhodes, @Tvietor08 etc. You've either not read it or are willfully disregarding the many other people quoted, the documents people can link to and the obvious facts https://t.co/jCLiqzEuyb
— Josh Meyer (@JoshMeyerDC) December 21, 2017
Shannon Bream pointed out that former National Security Counsel spokesman Tommy Vietor said Meyer’s sources are “very flawed” and former State Department spokesperson Marie Harf claimed the narrative in Meyer’s report is “just false.”
“There’s no evidence in this story to back up their allegations,” Harf said on “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday. “They quote a couple of low-level, ideological sources who clearly don’t like the Iran deal.”
Meyer said he’s a fan of Harf, but he said her claim that the people he spoke to were “low-level” is “sort of ridiculous.”
“These were the people that led this task force. They were not ideologues. They are not flawed. I don’t know what she’s talking about,” Meyer said.
He added that he spoke to “many, many dozens” of people and read thousands of documents to see if the allegations held up in the light of day.
“So this is not a story in 14,000 words where I was just taking some spin from some people,” Meyer said. “I spent months of meticulous reporting to document what was happening, talking to people outside of the administration. So I challenge people to let me know what the specifics are that they think aren’t true.”
The Washington Post finally got around to covering the story, via its media reporter, Eric Wemple. The headline of Wemple’s article was that Obama officials dispute Meyer’s reporting, but Wemple noted that they had not been able to document any actual inaccuracies:
The pushback doesn’t cite any factual errors involving the story’s claims about shut-down investigations and the like.
Wemple quotes a Politico defense of the Meyer reporting:
Josh Meyer’s groundbreaking investigation was rigorously reported, deeply sourced, thoroughly vetted and is of significant public interest given the national security implications. POLITICO is proud of this story and believe it captures the complexity of the decision making by the Obama administration in pursuit of a deal with Iran that it viewed as a major foreign policy achievement. It’s hardly surprising that Obama loyalists have pushed back on the overall thrust of the article.
In his months of reporting the piece, Josh conducted an exhaustive review of government documents and court records and spoke with dozens of key participants at all levels of government. It’s worth noting that the principals mentioned in the piece were given the opportunity to comment and when they declined, POLITICO interviewed numerous sources who could speak on their behalf.
Also, Josh responded himself on television [Tuesday], specifically responding to the false claim that the article is based on uncorroborated complaints from disgruntled low-level officials. “I also talked to many, many dozens of other people to get a sort of ground truth and see what their allegations were when held up to the light of day. So this is not a story in 14,000 words where I was just taking spin from some people,” he said.
Given that Meyer’s reporting has held up to scrutiny so far, that the pushback is from the Iran Deal Echo Chamber, and that no factual errors have been pointed out, you’d think this would be receiving wider coverage in the major newspapers. But it’s not. Nor is Meyer being invited on TV much to talk about his report, something he lamented on Twitter:
— Josh Meyer (@JoshMeyerDC) December 21, 2017
But the story is not going away. There will be congressional investigations, including focused on Rhodes, as the Free Beacon reports:
Lawmakers are launching an investigation into Obama-era efforts to thwart a longstanding U.S. investigation into the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah, according to multiple congressional officials and insiders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon….
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Oversight Committee and chair of its National Security Subcommittee, told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday that he and other top lawmakers are examining evidence that could implicate top former Obama officials, including National Security Council official Ben Rhodes, the architect of the former administration’s self-described pro-Iran “echo chamber.” …
Lawmakers will be paying particular attention to whether Rhodes or other senior officials accused of misleading Congress and the American public about the Iran deal played a role in thwarting the Hezbollah investigation.
“Congress will be investigating this thoroughly and my National Security subcommittee will be particularly interested in how such a decision came about and whether it was driven by key Iran deal architects such as Ben Rhodes,” DeSantis said.
There already has been a demand that DOJ turn over documents, as Politico reports:
Congressional Republicans on Thursday demanded action and sought more information following a POLITICO report that the Obama administration derailed a law enforcement campaign against drug trafficking by the terrorist group Hezbollah as former President Barack Obama sought to secure a nuclear agreement with Iran….
Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), both members of the House oversight committee, called for the Department of Justice to hand over by Jan. 8 all documents related to interference with law enforcement efforts against Hezbollah. They also asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to brief the oversight panel’s staff by Jan. 12.
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