Determined Reporters Fight With Top State Dept. Spokesperson

Determined Reporters Fight With Top State Dept. Spokesperson

( – Reporters from the Associated Press (AP) have a history of butting heads with the State Department. These journalists rarely accept fluff responses to hard-hitting questions. An exchange about Iran between AP reporter Matt Lee and State Department spokesperson Ned Price reached intense levels after Lee demanded more transparency.

Lifting Sanctions on Iran

The heated exchange between Lee and Price occurred during a press conference on February 7. Lee wanted answers about the lifting of nuclear sanctions in Iran, which occurred as part of Biden’s pledge to restore the Iran nuclear deal made under former President Barack Obama.

Lee questioned Price about how he could say Iran’s regime won’t benefit from the administration’s long list of waivers. The back and forth went on for several minutes. At one point, Price told the reporter there was no need to raise his voice, highlighting Lee’s apparent anger over the spokesman’s insistence on circumventing the issue at hand.

The two even disagreed over the wording of a question. Price said he answered it, but Lee said Price misunderstood the question and tried to restate it. Price then told Lee to refer to the transcript and left it at that.

Lee wasn’t about to let Price off the hook with canned answers or political rhetoric.

He wanted the truth and kept at him, trying to pin down concise and clear responses.

The Point of the Question

Iran has a history of exploiting such agreements to its advantage, which was Lee’s point. He wanted to know what benefits Iran would receive, and he wanted more explanation about why Iran had to do nothing to get this deal.

Price explained that lifting the sanctions allows Iran to work on nuclear safety and nonproliferation activities. Lee quickly fired back that such actions stand to benefit Iran in multiple ways, only to have Price insist on justifying the move once more. He feels the waivers primarily benefit America while providing only minor advantages to Iran.

Lee attempted to get Price to say Iran would benefit from the deal, but the spokesman kept mincing words and refusing to confirm the allegation. He even brought in a lift of sanctions that first occurred back in 2018. Lee quickly countered that the previous administration tried it, saw it would not work due to Iran taking advantage of the situation, and put sanctions back in place.

In a moment of evident frustration, Lee finally posed a point-blank question: “Does Iran benefit at all from the waivers that were signed?” Price once again sidestepped, saying that is a question for the Iranian government. He then quipped that US-based benefits are all that should matter.

Taking a different approach to getting an admission that this is a concession by the US for Biden to further his agenda, Lee questioned whether the move fell under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). It aims to ensure Congress reviews all agreements with Iran to avoid allowing it to obtain nuclear weapons. Price said the administration did not notify Congress under the INARA because the current issue doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction.

Lee attempted to ask why the INARA does not apply; Price said he did not know and would need to answer that question later.

Questioning the Government

The Lee/Price back and forth wasn’t the pair’s only tussle. Issues arose during the February 3 press conference after Price claimed Russia would publish a false flag video to justify invading Ukraine. When Lee asked to see evidence, Price could not produce anything.

Lee also accused the White House of entering “Alex Jones territory” during the same conversation. Price responded by suggesting that Lee doesn’t trust the US government. But why should Lee or anyone for that matter trust a government with a proven track record of poor credibility — especially surrounding foreign affairs?

These interactions prove the AP is working hard to get to the truth, but the Biden administration is dragging its feet. Does it expect Americans to blindly believe everything officials say without any proof of validity? This situation highlights the importance of a free press and reporters willing to fight for the truth.

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