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Earlier this week the U.S. State Department had to admit that a portion of a press briefing video on Iran nuclear talks from 2013 was deleted on purpose. Now a State Dept. spokesman is thanking Fox News in general, and reporter James Rosen in particular, for “bringing this to my attention.”
State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday that the Department of State had received a “deliberate request” to delete an exchange between Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen and then spokesperson Jen Psaki.
“A specific request was made to excise that portion of the briefing. We do not know who made the request to edit the video or why it was made,” Kirby told Fox News.
The DOS admission comes after Fox’s Rosen accused the State Department of scrubbing his question during the 2013 press briefing discussing the nuclear deal with Iran. Originally some in the Obama administration claimed the missing question was just a “glitch” in the recording. Still, the administration did not deny the video portion was removed from the State Department’s official website and its YouTube channel. However, Kirby’s comments Wednesday were a stunning admission that the exchange was deliberately erased from the video record.
On Fox, Kirby admitted “deliberately removing a portion of the video was not and is not in keeping with the State Department’s commitment to transparency and public accountability.”
Appearing on Fox & Friends this morning, Kirby went even farther and thanked the network for raising the issue.
“We took this seriously, for one. Actually, before I answer your question. I want to thank James Rosen, your correspondent, for bringing this to my attention. Because if he hadn’t a couple of weeks ago I would have never known this occurred. So first of all, kudos to him. He’s a journalist that I have great respect for so I thank him for that.”
Kirby went on to describe where DOS is now with the matter:
“Number two, we took it seriously and we did talk to the technician who was on duty that day and who was asked to make this cut. And the call that came into her was actually a call from someone else passing on a request from another official so it was two removed. I didn’t say yesterday that everything was over. I said we looked at this. Now, if additional information comes into light that’s going to compel me to go into more detail and to look at it more further, I’ll do that. I’m not afraid to do that at all. What I said to my staff yesterday was this is inappropriate, this isn’t the way we’re going to behave and what I’m focused on now is I’m going to put a policy – actually, we did a yesterday. There’s a policy in place that will prevent this from happening again. The other thing I do want to say just real quickly is that this video that was edited was the video that we put on the YouTube channel. There was still a full video of it existing on another official website – the Defense Video Information website as well as the transcript the written transcript was never edited. So the only one that was – and I’m not mitigating this and I’m not making excuses. The only one that was edited was the one that went on the YouTube channel.”
Kirby next insisted that he wasn’t yet sure who ordered the State Dept. video editor to excise the Iran question from the video. He also said he doesn’t think video techs are asked to do similar edits very often. He also noted that the DOS legal department is now looking into the case and trying to determine what role the editor had and who told the editor to make the cut.
Finally, Kirby also addressed former State Dept. spokesperson Jen Psaki’s claims that “sometimes you have to lie” when representing the office and defending the Obama administration.
“First of all, no. We don’t lie. That’s a key tenant of being a spokesman you can’t lie. In the moment you do that your credibility, your authenticity goes right down the toilet. That’s not what Jen said in that clip, she didn’t say it was okay to lie. She said that sometimes diplomacy needs privacy to be effective and that’s actually true. Believe me, as a spokesman coming over here from the Pentagon one of the frustrating things is I would love to talk about the great work our ambassadors are doing around the world but sometimes that work has to remain private so that the actual result can happen. That’s what she said – she didn’t say that she lied or anybody lied.”
Kirby ended his appearance insisting there has been no cover up of this incident.
Watch Kirby on Fox & Friends below.
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