Rachel Maddow’s Iran Misinformation

maddow-iranObama’s UN Ambassador-nominee Samantha Power will have a lot on her plate, as a New York Times story on June 9 makes clear. Included on the list was “confronting Iran’s apparent attempts to develop a nuclear weapon.” 

The next day on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow said this (6/10/13):

The current president of Iran has had the job for the last eight years. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he’s known around the world for defending Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The facts on this issue should be clear by now–but evidently they’re not.

Iran is not “apparently” developing a nuclear weapon. Some political leaders make claims to that effect, but there is no solid intelligence that has yet established that this is what Iran is doing. What is known is that the country has a uranium enrichment program that is regularly monitored by International Atomic Energy Agency, and that there is no evidence that the country’s uranium program has any military dimension.

As to Maddow’s claim, that’s just wrong. Ahmadinejad has, like other Iranian leaders, denied the country has any intention of building any such weapon. He’s done so in numerous U.S. media appearances, denying any Iranian plan to build a bomb–a simple Google search would turn up too many such instances, like this interview from CBS last year (helpfully headlined “Iranian President Denies Iran Developing a Nuclear Weapon.”) Or a Reuters piece (11/8/12) that included this:

“The Iranian nation is not seeking an atomic bomb, nor do they need to build an atomic bomb…. For defending ourselves we do not need a nuclear weapon,” said Ahmadinejad.

Perhaps Maddow has hitherto unreleased information that proves that Ahmadinejad isn’t telling the truth–and that when he says Iran isn’t building a bomb, what he means is, “Yes we are.”

Absent that, she needs to issue a correction.

(Thanks to Nima Shirazi for calling this to our attention.)

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.