New York Times Falsely Denies Iranian Nuclear Violations Mentioned in Trump Foreign Policy Speech
Is live-blogging by New York Times reporters subject to the same standards of accuracy as articles in the newspaper are?
Not that the standards for the print edition are particularly high. But even by those standards, Times reporter David Sanger, who is usually one of the more careful and independent journalists, was skating on some thin ice while writing about GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech as it was being delivered on Wednesday.
Mr. Sanger wrote, “It did not take long for Mr. Trump to offer a critique that shades the truth — that Iran has violated the nuclear deal signed last summer (it has not, and its missile tests are not covered by the agreement, but rather by United Nations Security Council resolutions).”
It’s ridiculous for Mr. Sanger to assert that Iran “has not” violated the nuclear deal. Has Mr. Sanger personally inspected every cave or basement in the Islamic Republic where nuclear work could possibly be going on in violation of the deal? Iran, after all, could be violating the deal without having gotten caught yet. Indeed, one of the complaints that Israel and its American supporters had about the deal in the first place was that Iran’s nuclear activity would be unverifiable. There’s a subtle but important distinction between not cheating on the deal and not being caught cheating on it. Mr. Sanger’s blanket statement misses that distinction.
What’s more, Mr. Sanger’s own lawyerly distinction between “the agreement” and “United Nations Security Council resolutions” is a misleading one. The UNSC resolution at issue wasn’t some entirely unrelated one; it was the resolution that implemented the Iran nuclear deal by lifting sanctions.
A Times news article about this last month reported, “The United States rebuked Iran on Friday over a series of ‘provocative and destabilizing’ ballistic missile tests this week and all but accused the Iranians of having violated a United Nations Security Council resolution that calls on them to refrain from such acts…. Security Council Resolution 2231, which formally abrogated all of the Council’s nuclear-related sanctions against Iran once the agreement took effect, also included language meant to prevent Iran from launching missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.”
Reuters put it this way, also last month: “By launching nuclear-capable missiles Iran has defied a United Nations Security Council resolution that endorsed last year’s historic nuclear deal, the United States and its European allies said in a joint letter …Iran’s recent ballistic tests involved missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and were ‘inconsistent with’ and ‘in defiance of’ council resolution 2231, adopted last July, said the joint U.S., British, French, German letter to Spain’s U.N. Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.”
If anyone is shading the truth here, it isn’t Mr. Trump, but Mr. Sanger.
If this were just a live-blog mistake or overstatement it might not be worthy of attention. But as is often the case, such errors are frequently picked up and repeated. So the lead editorial in today’s Times, headlined, “Donald Trump’s Strange Worldview,” asserts, “Mr. Trump repeatedly states outright falsehoods, often based on wrong assumptions. … The nuclear deal with the United States and other major powers has not made Iran a ‘great power,’ nor has Tehran violated the conditions of that pact, as Mr. Trump has said.”
Again, if anyone has a strange worldview or is stating outright falsehoods here, it isn’t Mr. Trump, but the New York Times editorial board. Even the Obama administration, France and Germany are accusing Iran of defying the Security Council resolution that lifted nuclear sanctions. The Times, meanwhile, is busy making excuses, drawing legalistic distinctions and engaging in obfuscation.
It’s almost as if the newspaper is afraid. But afraid of what?
Afraid that acknowledging Tehran’s violation would somehow jeopardize the New York Times Company’s lucrative side-business selling tours to Iran to travelers willing to pay $6,995 for the privilege of accompanying Times journalists through a Holocaust-denying, terror-sponsoring, human-rights-abusing police state.
More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.