CNN host Jake Tapper used the "buried lead" of his show Thursday to blast the State Department for its deception surrounding an intentional video deletion from a December 2013 briefing, saying it should "outrage every American."
State Department spokesman John Kirby admitted Wednesday that a staffer deliberately edited out video from the briefing of an unflattering exchange regarding Obama administration talks with Iran.
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"It's literally someone at the State Department trying to bury something, hiding it from you," Tapper said. "In this case, it was an acknowledgment by the Obama administration of having lied to reporters, a scrubbing of the public record, and it should outrage every American."
In step-by-step fashion, Tapper laid out to viewers three different lies told by members of the agency. It started when former spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told Fox News reporter James Rosen in February 2013 that there had been no direct talks between Iran and the United States, when they in fact had been going on for months.
In December of 2013, Rosen pointed out to new spokeswoman Jen Psaki that the U.S. had engaged in bilateral talks with Iran earlier in the administration, as acknowledged by Psaki herself.
"The State Department had lied to him and to you," Tapper said.
In the exchange that was later deleted from the public record, Rosen asked Psaki if it was policy to "lie" to preserve the secrecy of certain talks.
"James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress," Psaki said.
Her implication, of course, was the government deceived the public to achieve foreign policy goals. Fast-forwarding to May 10, 2016, Rosen informed spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau that this particular exchange with Psaki had been edited out of the official video.
Trudeau's explanation: There was a "glitch."
Tapper ruefully repeated her excuse before playing a clip of Kirby's admittance on Wednesday that a staffer was ordered to take that clip out of the public record.
"We learned that there was a deliberate request, that this wasn't a technical glitch," Kirby said. "This was a deliberate request to excise video."
To recap, Tapper said, there were three different lies: 1) Nuland's lie that there were no talks between Iran and the Obama administration, 2) the deletion of Psaki's acknowledgment of the first lie, and 3) blaming the deletion on a "glitch."
After playing a clip of Kirby saying there was no need for a deeper investigation because no rules prohibited such video deletion at the time, Tapper said the deceit had wider implications for Obama's much-debated Iran nuclear deal.
"There are so many questions about all three of these lies, including whether the initial lie had anything to do with the administration-pushed narrative of the Iran deal sold to the public, that this all came about in large part because Hassan Rouhani, supposedly some sort of moderate, was elected president of Iran in June of 2013, after Lie No. 1, which denied the talks were going on before Rouhani was elected," Tapper said.
"But before we can get into why Lies No. 1, 2 and 3 happened, the Obama administration needs to understand that it's not acceptable just to leave this where it is. Just as the public has a right to know the truth, we have a right to know who lied to us and why."
Rosen spoke last month about deception revealed in a New York Times profile of Obama aide Ben Rhodes over the nuclear deal. Part of the false narrative sold to the public through dutiful reporters was the idea that Rouhani's election spearheaded the opportunity for nuclear negotiations, when in fact Obama had desired such a deal since taking office in 2009.