The State Department is blaming the curious disappearance of unhelpful footage from an old press briefing on a 'glitch' today as the fallout continues from a profile that suggested the administration duped the press and its allies into backing the Iran nuclear deal.
Yesterday Fox News reporter James Rosen discovered that a portion of his 2013 exchange with then-State Department spokeswoman, now White House Communications Director, Jen Psaki was missing from the video archive.
As the briefing video approached the section where Psaki essentially admitted to Rosen that the administration had engaged in 'secret negotiations' with Iran, contradicting a previous claim that it had not, a white flash appeared, as if the tape had been edited, and it skipped ahead.
Rosen noted the oddity yesterday evening as he reported on the new drama surrounding the nuclear accord and said State could not explain the cut.
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The State Department is blaming the curious disappearance of unhelpful footage from an old press briefing on a 'glitch' today as the fallout continues from a profile that suggested the administration duped the press and its allies into backing the Iran nuclear deal
Today a spokeswoman for the diplomatic arm of the government brushed off the notion that it was a conspiracy, arguing that the video clip was available elsewhere and the discussion was included in the transcript posted to State's website.
'There was a glitch in the State Department video. When Fox flagged it for us, we actually replaced it,' State's Elizabeth Trudeau said.
Indeed, as of this afternoon, State's website included a new copy of the Dec. 2, 2013 briefing that contains the section in question.
In it, Rosen confronts Psaki with a charge made by her predecessor, Victoria Nuland, that the United States was not meeting with Iran one-on-one, outside of the international P5+1 group, to discuss its nuclear program.
Nuland told him earlier that year, 'We would be prepared to talk to Iran bilaterally. But with regard to the kind of thing that you're talking about on a government-to-government level, no.'
By the time of the December briefing, rumors were swirling that senior officials from both governments had been meeting in secret. Psaki wouldn't confirm those reports. But she also suggested they were accurate.
'Is it the policy of the State Department, where the preservation or the secrecy of secret negotiations is concerned, to lie in order to achieve that goal?' Rosen asked her.
Psaki told him, 'James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that.'
Trudeau swatted down a reporter today who said her excuse - the disappearing video footage was the result of a 'glitch - 'seems awfully strange and coincidental.'
'The transcript was always up,' she retorted, 'and the video existed on other channels.'
She told him, 'We're looking into it. Genuinely, we think it was a glitch.'
Other videos in the archive have not been affected 'to our knowledge,' Trudeau said.
'We were unaware of it, and as soon as we found out about it, we made sure it was whole.'
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
The kerfuffle arose from a report Rosen was filing for Fox on the The New York Times Magazine profile of Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.
The article asserts that Rhodes and the administration misconstrued the timeline for talks with Iran to make the resulting deal more palatable to Congress and the public.
'The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented – that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country – was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal,' the Times piece claims
In fact, it says, 'the most meaningful part of the negotiations with Iran had begun in mid-2012.'
That was months before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other so-called moderates came into power with the blessing of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
'The idea that there was a new reality in Iran was politically useful to the Obama administration,' said writer David Samuels.
The Obama administration has had its hands full over the past week whacking down various statements by Rhodes in the article and resulting accusations.
Yesterday, another Fox News reporter, Kevin Corke, asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 'Can you state categorically that no senior official in this administration has ever lied publicly about any aspect of the Iran nuclear deal?'
Earnest could be heard telling him in the briefing room, 'No, Kevin.'
The utterance is depicted in the White House's video version of the briefing but was not included in the transcript it makes available after each discussion with reporters.
AT THE CENTER OF IT ALL: The kerfuffle arose from a report James Rosen was filing for Fox News on the unflattering New York Times Magazine profile of Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes
It ignores Earnest's initial response and jumps straight to his follow-up statement.
'Kevin, I think the facts of this agreement and the benefits of this agreement make clear that the national security of the United States of America has been enhanced, and Iran's effort to acquire a nuclear weapon has been set back,' he said.
Earnest went on to tout the merits of the deal, as perceived by the administration, also telling Corke, 'I recognize that there is an attempt by those who either lied or got it wrong to try to relitigate this fight.
'But the fact of the matter is, when you take a look at the concrete results of this agreement, Iran is not able to obtain a nuclear weapon; we can verify that their nuclear program is only focused on peaceful purposes; and we have succeeded in making the United States safer, in make Israel safer, and making our partners in the region safer because Iran is not able to obtain a nuclear weapon.'
Afterward Corke asked him if he maybe 'misspoke' at the beginning.
'I said, can you state categorically that no senior official in this administration ever lied publicly about any aspect of the deal.'
To that, the president's spokesman said, 'There is no evidence that that ever occurred. And what I would encourage you and other critics of the deal to do is to look at the facts and to look at the results. We can verify them now, and the facts are clear.'
Asked today about the omission and whether its absence from the transcript was perhaps a reflection of a change in his position, Earnest told a reporter from another news outlet, 'No, if I had changed my answer you'd know about it.'