Obama Press Adviser Tears Into Fox News for Questioning Doctored Video

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki / AP
• June 3, 2016 12:12 pm


White House Communications Director Jen Psaki accused Fox News of "vilifying" her after a reporter pressed her to clarify her role in an incident where press footage was deliberately deleted from the State Department’s public video archives.

The State Department conceded Wednesday that a public affairs official had ordered the agency to cut several minutes of video from a 2013 press briefing. The deleted section showed Psaki acknowledging that the administration had misled the press about secret nuclear talks between the United States and Iran in 2012.

The State Department initially told the media that the deletion was a technical "glitch," before conceding that it had been deliberately edited at the order of an unnamed official. The written transcript remained fully intact on the department’s website.

Psaki said in a statement Wednesday that she "had no knowledge of" and wouldn’t have approved "any form of editing or cutting" to the press briefing transcript.

"I believe deeply in providing the press as much information on important issues as possible," Psaki added.

Fox News reporter James Rosen emailed Psaki for clarification, noting that the transcript from the briefing had never been edited as the video had, according to an email exchange published by Fox News.

Psaki replied briefly that her initial statement also applied to the video, which she said "is considered a form of the transcript," before tearing into the reporter for his line of questioning.

Psaki wrote to Rosen:

I understand it is inconvenient for you that I have nothing to do with this given you have spent the last three weeks vilifying me on television without any evidence of my knowledge or involvement and without once reaching out and asking me, but I would encourage you to also ask the State Department if there is any evidence. A shred or any information at all that suggests I had any knowledge of this or any connection to this on any level. Hopefully you will find the time to spend on the range of global events happening in the world in between attacking my character. Consider that on the record from me as well.

Rosen told Fox News on Thursday that he "has never assailed Psaki’s character, nor has he ever asserted or implied she was responsible for editing the footage."

The deleted section from the 2013 video showed Psaki confirming to Rosen that the State Department had lied to the press so that it could protect secret negotiations between the United States and Iran.

"There are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that," Psaki said at the time.

Rosen attempted to dig up the exchange after Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, insinuated in an interview that the administration misled the public in order to sell the controversial nuclear accord. Rosen noticed the footage had been deleted when he searched the State Department website.

State Department spokesman John Kirby revealed Wednesday there had been a "deliberate request" to scrub the footage.