Accuracy in Media

The mainstream media have not challenged the claim that chemical weapons were used by Syrian and/or Russian forces. Hence, they have been forced to explain how they were used when Obama officials previously claimed they had been removed from Syria. It’s another new low for a press corps that was eager to regurgitate whatever the Obama administration had claimed as a success in foreign policy.

The New York Times article entitled, “Weren’t Syria’s Chemical Weapons Destroyed? It’s Complicated,” is a fascinating exercise in trying to rationalize why Obama officials lied when they claimed Syria’s chemical arsenal had been eliminated.

It seems that lies are “complicated” to explain.

According to the Scott Shane article, President Barack Obama had declared that “American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated.” Later, Secretary of State John Kerry had declared, “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.”

So they lied. Right? Wrong. It’s a complicated matter.

According to the Times, Kerry and others had tried to refer to the elimination of Syria’s “declared” stocks. This was “a nuance often lost in news reports,” the Times said.

So when Kerry talked about eliminating “100 percent” of the weapons, that isn’t really what he meant.

Shane goes on to report, with a straight face, “Despite the failure to completely eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, Obama administration officials and outside experts considered the program fundamentally a success.”

A failure is a success.

At the time, the Times ran a story by Michael R. Gordon under the headline, “U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Arms.” It began: “The United States and Russia reached a sweeping agreement on Saturday that called for Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons to be removed or destroyed by the middle of 2014 and indefinitely stalled the prospect of American airstrikes.”

Those airstrikes had been threatened by Obama.

The Times said the agreement, titled “Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons,” called for the “complete elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment” during the first half of 2014.

There doesn’t seem to be any “nuance” in that report. The phrase “complete elimination” is self-explanatory.

Here are some other references from the “Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons:”

  • Syria will submit “a comprehensive listing, including names, types, and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.”
  • “We set ambitious goals for the removal and destruction of all categories of CW related materials and equipment” (emphasis added).

The Kerry quote, “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out,” was uttered on the July 20th, 2014 edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Here is more of Kerry’s statement: “Russia was constructive and helpful and worked at that effort. Russia has been constructive in helping to remove 100 percent of the declared chemical weapons from Syria. In fact, that was an agreement we made months ago. And it never faltered, even during these moments of conflict.”

NBC News, on August 18, 2014, highlighted Kerry’s statement that “the United States has finished eliminating Syrian President Bashar Assad’s declared chemical weapons arsenal aboard the U.S. cargo vessel MV Cape Ray in international waters.”

NBC also noted this Obama statement:

“Today we mark an important achievement in our ongoing effort to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction by eliminating Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile.” In this statement, with the reference to “declared chemical weapons,” we see that Obama was playing fast and loose with the truth, or using “nuance,” as the Times indicated. Kerry had been using it, too.

So where were the media demands for an explanation of the use of the term “declared” and what exactly it was supposed to mean?

When Obama had issued a statement on the U.S.-Russian “Agreement on Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons,” the word “undeclared” was not there. Obama said, “This framework provides the opportunity for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in a transparent, expeditious, and verifiable manner, which could end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but to the region and the world.”

Over at The Washington Post, where “democracy dies in darkness,” we find a number of stories about the alleged complete elimination of Syrian chemical weapons.

On September 15, 2013, the Post reported, “The United States and Russia agreed Saturday on a plan to bring Syrian chemical weapons under international control, a rare diplomatic victory in a brutal civil war that appears to head off a punitive U.S. military strike on Syria in the near future.” On October 31, 2013, the Post reported that inspectors “confirmed today that the government of the Syrian Arab Republic has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable.”

Incredibly, the Post has now run a column stating that “A chemical weapons attack in Syria exposes Trump’s Assad problem,” rather than that it exposes Obama’s failure.

The author, Ishaan Tharoor, who writes about foreign affairs for the paper, found fault with Trump officials for highlighting Obama’s failed Syria policy. “It’s seemingly a bizarre line of attack for the Trump administration to choose,” he wrote. But why? What has happened to holding the government accountable?

Obama’s policy was more than a failure. It was a carefully crafted lie, concocted with the collaboration of the Russians, which was designed to deceive the American people into believing that the weapons had been eliminated.

On the left, the media watchdog group, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), has also been performing mental gymnastics in trying to defend the failed agreement. The group does not dispute that the Syrians used chemical weapons and that the alleged sarin attacks on the Syrian city of Idlib “strongly suggest the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] campaign didn’t fulfill its promise of ridding Syria of chemical weapons. But this is only a criticism of the program’s overall efficacy, not its actual existence.”

In other words, the OPCW failed, but it actually succeeded.

FAIR defended the work of the OPCW by saying that the attack could have been worse! Writer Reed Richardson said that “…it is worth pondering what greater atrocities the Syrian people might have suffered with 1,300 metric tons more chemical weapons remaining in the country…”

Of course, according to this logic, we don’t really know how many chemical weapons were left in Syria. The regime could have hundreds, or even thousands of tons of weapons still available.

Whether the Sarin attack was carried out by the regime or its Russians backers is beside the point. The media have accepted the evidence provided to them by their sources. The issue is that acceptance of this evidence blows apart their previous narrative that Obama had saved the people of Syria from future gas attacks.

Another point that has to be made is that Obama trusted the Russians to participate in the disarmament of their client state, and Obama now comes across looking like a complete dupe of the Vladimir Putin regime.

But wasn’t Trump supposed to be the Russian agent?

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  • karenc

    What is also true is that Obama/Kerry got 1300 tons of chemical weapons removed from an unstable Syria. It is also true, that for the rest of Obama’s Presidency, no sarin was used. Now, it is possible that this was not the entire amount – and the attack last week was from that stockpile and the Syrians thought Trump would let them get away with more. It is also possible that Syria obtained the sarin from outside the country – in which case, they may have gotten everything out in 2014. It is asinine to use the word “lie”, when you can not prove that Obama/Kerry knew there was more.

    Given the many areas of Syria overrun by either Al Nusra or ISIS, getting 1300 tons of chemical weapons out in 2014 was a very important accomplishment. It is very hard to believe that Trump’s attack will have anywhere near the real impact that that deal had.

  • Dan Hollingsworth

    Obama loves chemical weapons. They help to rid the world of “useless” people.

  • Mr. W. H. Braden

    After listening to Barry for years it quite clear, at best, this man is disingenuous. His agenda is Barry H. Obama, shown by his now residence on a ‘rich man’s’ island laying on the beach waiting for some to write ‘his’ book. For his sake I hope he and Michael collaborate on the details.

  • Ima Barber

    The story is not about him getting rid of 1300 tons of weapons. The story is about saying he got rid of 100% of the weapons, which turned out not to be true. (A lie)

  • Richard Corley

    I’m sorry there seems to be NO HOPE for you. You will believe anything that ALL the Democratic Party and the Democratic Press tells you. Like if you like your Dr. you can keep them, Insurance premiums will come down. etc., etc., Ms. Clinton DID NOT SEND OR receive ANY Classified information ever never. etc., etc.,

  • TPS12

    Ah msm the lapdogs of the bo administration.

  • John Cunningham

    When you throw chum in the water, out in the Oceans of the World, you get Sharks. That is exactly what Barack Obama did with his feckless and weak kneed approach to Foreign Policy. Imagine Churchill and Roosevelt just up and surrendering to Germany?

    Now, we have a new President, with the same old Sharks. Trouble is this President has a plan. One of might equals right. I hope he calls out Russia for what it is, a State sponsor of terrorism. One that would shoot down an airliner and chemically kill Women and Children.
    Time to put Putin on a list and eventually the World will too.

  • grnjllybn

    Are you a ‘complete idiot’ or just a partial idiot???

  • x18E40

    Lies are usually complicated because the embellishment required to distort the truth requires a solid story. Absent facts to point back to, Obama and his apologists simply made this stuff up knowing damn well that the media wouldn’t question them. “Who cares?” is my biggest question, because the only ones that seem to care have a very predictable anti-Trump bias that is pretty hard not to see. We care about fairness and honesty in so-called news reports, but have learned to simply ignore things like obsessing over the fact that Obama could say or do pretty much anything without follow up questions.
    Reporter: “President Obama, is it true that former Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that 100% of their chemical weapons have been destroyed?”
    Obama: “I can confirm that that is exactly what Secretary Kerry has reported to this Administration.”
    Reporter: “Are you certain that the figure is 100%?”
    Obama: “I am. Next question.”
    In this fictional example we see a pattern that went on for 8 years, when the media were unwilling to question statements that any other candidate would been pressed much harder for. They checked the boxes, but for 8 long years we watched the media becoming Obama’s Propaganda Ministry, and most of us saw straight through all of it and weren’t buying it. Those that did don’t seem to care about fairness and honesty so long as their ideologically similar candidate won the election.

    Trump is changing how we all perceive the press, and is doing it by standing up to the mainstream media bullies who have declared war on Trump since the election, and being proven right over and over again. So far the general public seems content with pretending that they are journos that are easier to change the channel on than correct fake news, but that is because the media is standing by and refusing to admit what we all see quite plainly without any consequence than harming their own reputations. But when it becomes clear that President Trump was demonstrably right all along, I’m guessing that the days of the mainstream getting away with using the label of news while acting like partisan hacks, are numbered and have indeed passed us up. It will put some out of business, but more importantly they will have a very hard time earning back trust that had to be proven despite their objections, lies and tactics to conceal the truth.

  • sabza

    I believe she is a complete 100% idiot.

  • jg collins

    Psychological projection at work. When the Dims accused Trump of carrying out Putin’s agenda, that means the Dims were doing exactly that.

  • jg collins

    You’re a piece of work, you know that?

  • john robel

    Know why there are no Wal-Marts in Syria? All they have there are TARGETS.

  • It’s amazing that every-time a Democrat makes a big announcement I tell my wife (Who knows nothing about politics) listen for the keyword that they can use to justify their lies. Without fail they always seem to inject a word like “declared” to claim “see we didn’t lie” They truly believe the American people are idiots, because after how many countless times they pulled this crap, they still believe we haven’t caught on.

  • Patmajia

    Is there anyone who wants to protect the Syrian minority groups such as Alawites and Christians? If so who? It’s not Turkey. It’s not Israel. It’s not Saudi Arabia. It’s not the USA. Is there anyone? The new axis of evil is not who I thought it would be.


    You are absolutely right, Pat. Aside from the Syrian government which fights, and whose soldiers die, to protect those groups, no one seems to care. al-Nusra and the “White Helmet” vaudevillians rule the airwaves and, for unknown reasons, their claims (like Syrian chemical bombings) are believed by right and left without question. Even this site, which should be demanding proof of any dubious claim, regurgitates the same garbage.

    It is shameful, and the Syrian people have to live in Salafi hell with no one from the West or the GCC interested in saving them.


    It is amazing that the one thing the Reps and Dems agree on is war in small foreign countries. The Gulf of Tonkin fantasy worked so well that warmongers keep on revisiting it. The New York Times and this site, publishing in tandem. It is a sight to see. Unfortunately, there are millions of victims, and no one ever pays for the murders, but that is uninteresting news.

  • beggarsbelief

    “Whether the Sarin attack was carried out by the regime or its Russian backers is beside the point.”

    There is zero chance that either Assad or the Russians launched a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun unless they actually decided to lose the war and Assad had a death wish.

    The mainstream media, along with Clinton, Schumer, Pelosi, Graham, McCain, McMaster and co are peddling this lie to persuade Trump to pursue regime change, which is exactly what Trump promised not to do and exactly what Al Qaeda want him to do.

    Al Qaeda controls Khan Sheikhoun and all the videos of the incident were made and distributed by people affiliated to or under the control of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is on the verge of defeat in western Syria and has very obviously created a false flag incident to try to fool Trump into attacking Assad on their behalf. It seems to be working and if the president is dumb enough to launch a full scale attack on Assad, Al Qaeda will win.

    Pushing for wars that kill millions, harm US and western interests and only serve the interests of ‘radical islamic terrorism’ – that’s the real evil of the mainstream media. Obama was probably telling the truth when he said Assad had handed over all his chemical weapons – or at least, all those that had not fallen into the possession of Al Qaeda/ISIS.