Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's war on fact-checking doesn't extend to its own alleged fact-checking, perhaps because it's so terrible. In a Jan. 8 post, Nicholas Fondacaro issued the familiar complaint that President Trump was once again fact-checked, this time after his claim that, in Fondacaro's telling, "the Obama administration handed over roughly $1.7 billion to Iran as a ransom for American hostages and said it helped Iran fund the attack" on a U.S. military base in Iraq after Trump directed the killing of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani:
In a fact-check, CNN dinged Trump for exaggerating the money amount by saying Obama’s nuclear deal freed up $150 billion in frozen, overseas Iranian assets. But even they admitted Obama once used the same figure and noted the real amount was reportedly between $50-60 billion. That’s a lot of money entering a cash-strapped country that’s known to fund terrorist organizations around the region.
CNN also did not attempt to fact-check how Iran spent the unfrozen funds. The fact is, Iran doesn’t do domestic spending. The Iranian regime puts much of its funding towards developing its ballistic missile and other weapons technologies, the Revolutionary Guard, and terrorist group activities.
Also, CNN’s fact-check did lie to readers in that it falsely claimed the $1.7 billion was “to settle a decades-old dispute over a purchase of never-delivered US military goods Iran made…” That’s where the money came from but not why it was delivered.
Fondacaro offered nothing to back up his "fact" that Iran "much of its funding towards" military activities -- perhaps because that isn't actually true. As actual fact-checkers have pointed out, the money was Iran's in the first place, intended to buy military equipment from the U.S. in the 1970s but canceled after Iran's Islamic revolution; the U.S. held onto Iran's $400 million, which accrued interest over the next few decades.
Not only is there no way to know whether Iran used the money the U.S. returned to it to specifically pay for the missiles fired on the Iraqi bases, it's unlikely that those missiles were paid for by Iran deal money. Former national sexurity adviser Susan Rice has pointed out that Iran had a ballistic missile program for several years before the nuclear deal was signed.
Instead, Foncacaro went on a tirade against Susan Rice over a separate TV appearance, calling her an "Obama-era liar" and ranting that she "lied to the American people about a YouTube video causing the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya." As usual, Fondacaro never proves Rice "lied"; in fact, she was simply repeating talking points supplied to her by the CIA.
Fondacaro even summarized the CNN fact-check wrong. Trump didn't say the Iran deal "freed up $150 billion in frozen, overseas Iranian assets" as Fondacaro claimed; he said that Iran was "given $150 billion." And that figure (which was indeed somewhere around $60 billion) was for unfrozen assets around the globe, not U.S. money given to Iran.
Fondacaro wasn't the only MRC writer to fall into derangement mode over Rice's reappearance. The same day, Tim Graham huffed that Rice "lied on five different network talk shows in 2012," then repeated Trump's falsehood in complaining that she was allowed to fact-chedk "the 150 billion dollars Obama gave to Iraq, declaring that "There is no doubt that Obama gave that money. Liberals are merely claiming we were giving the Iranians back their own seized assets from 1979."
Graham is clearly never going to admit that the "liberals" are being factually accurate.