On Fox News Sunday, AP's Julie Pace Revels in Sitting on 'Secret Iran Talks' Story for Eight Months

On Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace yesterday (full video here), the Associated Press’s Julie Pace twice demonstrated why hanging the “Administration’s Press” moniker on the self-described “essential global news network” is more than justified.

My previous post (at BizzyBlog; at NewsBusters) dealt with Pace's blind acceptance of unsupported assertions about the reason for the Obama administration's delay of 2015 Obamacare enrollment until November 15, 2014 and her willingness to parrot long-discredited talking points about why the HealthCare.gov website initially crashed. Before that, she bragged about how her organization, which didn't exactly have a track record of sitting on news about secret Bush administration efforts, sat on what it knew about the existence of secret negotiations between the U.S. and Iran (bolds are mine throughout this post):


CHRIS WALLACE: Well, Julie, good to have you here today.

JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Good to be here.

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WALLACE: ... because you have a fascinating story on the wires today. You report that the U.S. and Iran have been involved for the last year in secret high level talks. One, what was going on and two, how big a role do those talks play in leading up to this weekend's agreement?

PACE: Well, this is a story that I've been working on with two great colleagues of mine, Matt Lee and Brad Klapper since March. March is when we were first tipped off that the U.S. and Iran have been having a high level meeting in Oman. And that meeting happened critically before Rouhani, the more moderate cleric was elected. We subsequently learned that there were four other meetings that happened after Rouhani was elected over the course of this fall. And those are the meetings that really laid the ground work for this agreement that we saw last night. It was in these meetings that some of the details were actually discussed between the U.S. and Iran, and that -- the deal that actually was then brought to the P5 talks. And a lot of the allies were surprised in some way that this deal seem to come together a little more quickly than maybe they expected, and that's in large part because these meetings had already happened.

And they sat on all of this until this week.

Here's a portion of the AP's full story, which is available on the wire service's "Big Story" site. It even contains a weak attempt at an excuse for holding back:

SECRET US-IRAN TALKS SET STAGE FOR NUKE DEAL

The United States and Iran secretly engaged in a series of high-level, face-to-face talks over the past year, in a high-stakes diplomatic gamble by the Obama administration that paved the way for the historic deal sealed early Sunday in Geneva aimed at slowing Tehran's nuclear program, The Associated Press has learned.

The discussions were kept hidden even from America's closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West.

But the secrecy of the talks may also explain some of the tensions between the U.S. and France, which earlier this month balked at a proposed deal, and with Israel, which is furious about the agreement and has angrily denounced the diplomatic outreach to Tehran.

President Barack Obama personally authorized the talks as part of his effort — promised in his first inaugural address — to reach out to a country the State Department designates as the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism.

The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden's top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.

The last four clandestine meetings, held since Iran's reform-minded President Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated in August, produced much of the agreement later formally hammered out in negotiations in Geneva among the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran, said three senior administration officials. All spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss by name the highly sensitive diplomatic effort.

The AP was tipped to the first U.S.-Iranian meeting in March shortly after it occurred, but the White House and State Department disputed elements of the account and the AP could not confirm the meeting. The AP learned of further indications of secret diplomacy in the fall and pressed the White House and other officials further. As the Geneva talks appeared to be reaching their conclusion, senior administration officials confirmed to the AP the details of the extensive outreach.

Translation: They didn't report it until the Obama administration said it would be okay to report it.

There isn't a snowball's chance in Hades that AP journalists would have held back stories just because a Republican or conservative administration might "dispute elements" of a story's rendering. What a pathetic attempt at an excuse.

That's why calling the Associated Press the Administration's Press is completely appropriate.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.