After a cursory look into a mysteriously edited State Department briefing video pertaining to the Iran deal, Secretary of State John Kerry promised Wednesday to launch a comprehensive investigation into who ordered the department to scrub video of an exchange between a Fox News reporter and then State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
During a press briefing, agency spokesman Mark Toner announced that the department had reversed its decision not to investigate who ordered a State Department official to edit out several minutes of a YouTube video of a 2013 briefing that was discovered missing in May.
“We’re going to continue to look at additional troves of information in an effort to find out, again, what happened,” Toner said.
“That is basically because the secretary said he wants to dive deeper into this, look more into what happened, and try to get to the bottom of what happened.”
In the 2013 briefing, Psaki essentially admitted to Fox News Washington Correspondent James Rosen that negotiations to initiate the multinational nuclear deal with Iran had taken place as early as 2011.
“There are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress,” Psaki told Rosen at the time. “This is a good example of that.”
Though the department previously maintained that the editing was a “glitch,” earlier this month, State Department spokesman Admiral John Kirby revealed that an employee deliberately edited out the exchange, but asserted that the agency would not investigate the incident further.
Rosen’s revelation is part of the continued fallout from a controversial profile of President Barack Obama’s deputy national-security adviser, Ben Rhodes, who told the New York Times magazine that he had misled reporters to about the timeline of the Iran deal in order to create a favourable narrative.
Rosen told Business Insider in a phone interview earlier on Wednesday that he hoped the department would investigate further. But he also noted that he had faith in independent media investigations and an informal House Oversight Committee inquiry into the incident.
“It’s a significant moment because it’s not often in the annals of a modern presidency where an administration is forced to admit publicly that it has sought to censor the record of its public briefings,” Rosen said.
“There’s a number of outstanding demands from congressional committee chairmen for documents, for testimony, for evidence relating to this incident …. So I think that there have been some demands for more evidence in this whole set of incidents, and I think we haven’t heard the last of it.”
The Fox News reporter contended that the Obama administration misjudged interest in the edited video.
“There was an early assessment that this incident wouldn’t amount to much, that no one would care about what happened here, that it would just be seen as a Fox News thing or James Rosen trying to inflate his own reputation,” Rosen said.
“But instead they have seen this ferocious reaction from the rest of the news media and on social media,” he added. “People care about this stuff – they don’t like it when people tamper with history or shut down a reporter who’s asking tough questions. They recognise that for what it is, which is authoritarian in nature. I think they mis-gauged their own set of events.”
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