The idea that Hillary Clinton's emails outed an Iranian nuclear scientist, thus leading to his execution by Iranian authorities, is a myth -- but don't tell CNSNews.com that.
An Aug. 8 CNS article by Susan Jones uncritically repeated Republican Sen. Tom Cotton's suggestion that scientist Shahram Amiri was executed because "in the e-mails that were on Hillary Clinton's private server, there were conversations among her senior advisers about this gentleman. That goes to show just how reckless and careless her decision was to put that kind of highly classified information a private server. I think her judgment is not suited to keep this country safe." Jones quotes from the emails, but none of them mention Amiri by name, nore do Cotton or Jones back up the suggestion that Iranians had access to Clinton's private server.
On Aug. 9, Patrick Goodenough frames the claim as a mere dispute between the Trump and Clinton campaigns after Trump latched onto it:
The execution of an Iranian nuclear scientist surfaced on the campaign trail Monday when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested that his Democratic rival’s private server emails may have been linked to his death.
“Many people are saying that the Iranians killed the scientist who helped the U.S. because of Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails,” Trump tweeted, in reference to Shahram Amiri, executed last week according to the Iranian judiciary.
Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state is a major controversy in her presidential campaign and Trump’s tweet referred to reports that a couple of emails – among thousands released by the State Department in line with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit – referred implicitly to Amiri.
The tweet drew a sharp retort from Nick Merrill, Clinton’s traveling press secretary, who said the GOP nominee was presenting a fabrication, under the cover of what other, unnamed people supposedly are saying.
“‘Many people are saying’ = ‘I made this up’” Merrill tweeted. “After a morning on the teleprompter, the muzzle was bound to come off.” (Trump gave a major economic speech in Detroit earlier in the day, reading off a teleprompter.)
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), for one, has raised concerns about the emails on Clinton's private server in relation to Amiri’s fate.
Not only does Goodenough fail to offer any proof of Iranian access to Clinton's server, he failed to mention the crucial fact that there's no link whatsoever between Amiri and Clinton's emails.
A Washington Post article posted before Goodenough's article -- so he had no excuse not to reference it -- debunked claims of a connection:
There are several possible explanations as to why Amiri decided to go home and face the judgment of the Iranian justice system, which concluded he was a traitor. The Iranian government may have threatened his wife and 7-year old son. He may have hated life on the run. He may have had a change of heart.
But there’s no reasonable connection between the discussion of Amiri’s case on email by Clinton’s staff to Amiri’s eventual execution. There’s no evidence her server was hacked. The Iranians knew all about Amiri well before the emails were released publicly. His kidnapping story never held water and his fate was sealed long before his sentence was carried out.
An Aug. 9 Washington Post fact-check by Glenn Kessler was even more definitive:
As can be seen with this timeline of newspaper articles, the defection and then return of Amiri was widely covered in the news media in 2009 and 2010. Iranian officials could have learned everything they needed to know about Amiri’s defection from reading The Post. Moreover, Iran first publicly raised questions about his disappearance. There was little to be learned from the cryptic messages in Clinton’s emails, even if Iran had somehow gained access to Clinton’s server.
Mystery solved! And four more Pinocchios for Donald Trump.
Will Goodenough correct his article? Will Jones explain to her readers that Cotton was wrong? Will CNS admit it's promoting a false, politically motivated attack and that it knows it's false? Does CNS even care about publishing fair and accurate journalism?