Apart from the news that their deadline has been extended through Friday (at which point it will…be extended again, I would imagine), there’s not a whole lot to say about the Iran talks at the moment. But there is always something to say about how the “no deal” folks are covering the talks, because they always find some new and creative ways to do it. And when I say “creative,” I mean “creative with the truth,” because that’s how these folks have been rolling lately. Inevitably the “creative” part of the story gets corrected somehow, but as in most things the correction never quite makes up for the initial error.
Take this recent case that was highlighted by Media Matters. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes spoke with Jeffrey Goldberg at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and now you’ve either just scored a BINGO! on your natsec wonk card or you’ve checked off the final couple of boxes on my “if you ever see me write this phrase, please take my computer away from me” list. Anyway, Rhodes said that the Obama administration thinks (hopes) that a nuclear deal would lead to political change inside Iran (“we believe that a world in which there is a deal with Iran is much more likely to produce an evolution in Iranian behavior than a world in which there is no deal”). But he also made the inarguable, if somewhat hollow, point that any Iran deal has to stand on its own merit for the duration of the deal, or in other words that it can’t be so weak that it depends on such political change for its terms to be effective.
Nobody could possibly dispute this logic, since the Islamic Republic probably ain’t going anywhere in the next decade despite our best hopes. Well, almost nobody could object; enter Very Serious National Security Wonks like the Brookings Institution’s Mike Doran, who will object to anything that anybody from this administration has to say about Iran short of an announcement that the airstrikes have commenced. On Twitter, always the place for high-minded discourse, Doran ignored what Rhodes said about how the deal can’t rely on Iran changing, then did a little artful paraphrase of the rest of his comments:
The paraphrase is a tried and true Twitter joke format, and yes Doran could have made it clearer that he was paraphrasing Rhodes, but that would have been an extraordinarily dumb thing for Rhodes to have actually said. If you were, say, a journalist interested in writing about Rhodes’s interview with Goldberg, instead of relying on a single tweet about that interview, you could, you know, watch the video of the thing yourself to see if those words actually came out of Rhodes’s mouth. These guys were speaking to each other at the Aspen Ideas Festival, not in a parking garage under the Hoover Building, so the whole thing was available on YouTube. As it turns out, actually, Doran linked to the freaking YouTube video in his tweet.
Now enter the “journalists” at Breitbart.com, specifically editor Joel Pollak, who elected not to watch the video but to just cite Doran’s tweet as though Rhodes had spoken those exact words: Continue reading