During an interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (7/13/14), NBC Meet the Press host David Gregory made a very familiar–and very misleading–comment about what the “international community” says about Iran’s nuclear program:
So with respect, the international community is divided about a lot of things. They’re actually not divided about one thing. They think Iran is up to no good and wants to build a nuclear weapon. So why not say definitively that you will eliminate the bulk of your capacity, the bulk of your centrifuges, to say to the world: “We really won’t fight. We really won’t build a weapon.”
Iran has consistently told the world that it has no interest in developing a nuclear weapon. As of right now, there is no evidence that they are. But on the broader point of international unity, the fact that Zarif was even on the show meant that someone could challenge this falsehood:
First of all, that’s a different international community. They day I went to a meeting of 5+1 or E-3+3 in New York, they said we represent the international community, and I told them: “I’m just coming to you from chairing a meeting of 120 countries called the Non-Aligned Movement, where Iran has been the chairman and is the chairman. And they support us.” They believe, actually, 180-some members of the NPT believe, and they repeatedly said it in 1990 and in 2010, that countries’ choices of their fuel cycle should be respected.
So it’s not the international community. It’s a few countries that have concerns.
So the good news is that a journalist could be corrected on his false framing of a story. But that doesn’t mean all was well on Meet the Press; Gregory made two confused reference to Iran’s nuclear program (“this question of Iran and its nuclear weapons,” and then later on he referred to “this whole debate about Iran’s nuclear weapons.”)
The show’s roundtable–Republican Rick Santorum, conservative columnist Kim Strassel, Democrat Jennifer Granholm and Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press–were in total agreement. Strassel cheered pressure to continue sanctions on Iran as a “good example of bipartisanship in Congress.” Henderson said Zarif was irrational and that “we don’t need more nuclear states.” Santorum said that “we were in the green room watching your interview and all–Democrats, Republicans–we were all laughing.”
But perhaps the oddest part was that NBC gave time to a factcheck of the Iranian official’s interview:
Jeffrey Goldberg is here now, columnist at Bloomberg View, national correspondent for The Atlantic. And Jeffrey, a lot of our audience may not have heard Foreign Minister Zarif in that kind of detail. What’s the reality check on his views and what he’s saying?
That would be the same Jeffrey Goldberg who famously wrote long pieces for the New Yorker falsely alleging that Iraq had extensive weapons of mass destruction and that the Saddam Hussein was linked to Al-Qaeda (FAIR Blog, 8/12/10). This is the journalist NBC tapped to do a fact check of another country’s nuclear program.
You can’t make this stuff up.