WashPost Buries Iran-Ransom Admission in Middle of Page A-10 -- Despite Ransom Paid for Post Reporter!

August 19th, 2016 12:14 PM

Friday's New York Times put Iran on the top of front page, left corner: "U.S. Concedes It Postponed Iran Payment: GOP Cites 'Ransom' to Free 3 Americans." One of those ransomed Americans was Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, so it was peculiar that the Post buried this story on page A-10, and not at the top of page A-10 -- but underneath columnist Joe Davidson writing about the National Park Service.

The Post also found no space for an editorial about the Obama people being exposed as dishonest for claiming there was no linkage. Jeff Bezos, owner of the newspaper since 2013, picked up Rezaian himself and flew him home from Switzerland.

Post reporter Carol Morello's story carried an Obama-press-release headline: "Cash payment to Iran was 'leverage,' not ransom, State Department says." But Morello also noted State Department spokesman John Kirby denied any linkage between "leverage"/ransom and hostages just days ago:

Many Republicans in the House and Senate who opposed the nuclear deal with Iran initially suspected that the payment was ransom for the freed Americans, who included Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. But a firestorm over the trade was reignited this month when the Wall Street Journal reported that the money had been paid in cash around the time of the prisoner release.

On Aug. 3, the day the news broke, Kirby tweeted: “Reports of link between prisoner release & payment to Iran are completely false.”

After that news broke, on August 4, Morello's story said Republicans called it ransom, but "scholars" (or in some cases, like Barbara Slavin, former reporter/colleagues at other liberal newspapers) said potato, po-tah-to:

Former diplomats and scholars of Iran say that the transaction is as much about perception as provable reality.

"The timing may look awkward, but on the other hand, this dispute had been festering for more than three decades, and it was good to get it resolved -- and to get Jason and the others out," said Barbara Slavin, acting director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council. "Those who opposed the nuclear deal will call it 'ransom' and those who supported it will call it 'compensation.' "

The Post made an online video implying the Republican argument was wrong. "Republicans say the Obama administration paid a ransom for four American prisoners held in Iran. Here's what really happened.

As Secretary of State John Kerry (falsely) claimed the negotiations were separate in the video, and simply represented “a restoration to Iran of its own money,” the text on screen read:

“The State Department says separate negotations were held....

for the nuclear deal, financial settlement and prisoner deal.

The settlement was announced on January 17.....

The same day President Obama announced the prisoners had been freed.

It's time for a new video!

PS: Curtis Houck pointed out to me that USA Today buried the ransom story on the bottom of page 5A. On the front page was an Obama press release: "Justice to end use of private prisons." I should have mentioned the Post also put that story at top of Page One: "U.S. to phase out privately operated federal prisons."