• State Department Tries to Send Embarrassing Press Video Down the Memory Hole

    June 7, 2016 // 14 Comments »

    jen psaki.resized

    Last week the State Department revealed that an unknown official within its public affairs office ordered the scrubbing of roughly eight minutes from a video of a State press briefing, which included a discussion about negotiations related to the Iran nuclear deal.


    In the deleted portion, then-spokesperson Jen Psaki (above) was asked whether her predecessor lied when she said secret bilateral talks with Iran had not yet begun, when later U.S. officials said they were already ongoing at that point.

    A few days later, after the news broke of the deletion, Secretary of State John Kerry said that whoever called for deleting the several minutes of video was being “stupid, clumsy and inappropriate.” Kerry emphasized that he intends to find out who was responsible, adding that he didn’t want someone like that working for him.

    No One is Responsible

    However, on the same day Kerry issued his intention to find the responsible person, the current State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said the investigation to determine who ordered portions deleted from a video was over.

    “We believe we have conducted an inquiry into this incident,” Toner told reporters. “We have exhausted our efforts to look into the incident and responsibility.”

    According to State, the investigation learned that the technician who made the cut from the YouTube video did so on orders from someone in the public affairs office, but that no one remembered who. Despite no one remembering who gave the order, State was clear that its investigation ruled out former spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

    Toner also added in his briefing to reporters that there was no rule or regulation barring such editing, and it was thus allowed. Toner’s statement mirrors almost exactly the language Hillary Clinton has used to justify her use of a private email server while Secretary of State.

    When the editing was first uncovered by a journalist at Fox News, the State Department blamed the missing minutes on a technical “glitch.”



    Anything Familiar Here?

    We have become all-too-used to government lies; they are now expected and quickly dismissed as business as usual. Still, State’s actions deserve special note for their utter contemptuous nature.

    To begin, the deletion was actually not that big of a deal. The statements cut out were made in 2013, and the video itself was buried on YouTube. The events have passed, and the false statement could have easily be brushed away as necessary during secret negotiations. In the broad scope of things, they really didn’t matter, yet State felt compelled to hide them anyway. Even the hiding was crude, a simple edit of an event witnessed by a room full of journalists. Not exactly subterfuge.

    That contempt was carried forward into 2016, when State tried to blow the whole affair off by claiming it was a technical glitch. When they got caught in the lie, the next step was a faux-investigation that revealed nothing, except to purport to clear the senior person involved in the mess and the one who presumably had the most to gain from the deletion (Psaki now works in the White House.)

    The State Department then doubled-down with new lies, allowing Secretary Kerry to demand resolution while simultaneously announcing the issue is closed and no further “resolution” is going to happen, absent a Congressional inquiry that will no doubt be stymied by slow responses from State and cries that it is all just another political attack by the Republicans.

    Any of this sound familiar?


    BONUS: The White House was also caught this week deleting an embarrassing line from the official transcript of a press briefing on the same topic. Probably just a coincidence…



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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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    Posted in Democracy, Embassy/State

    Social Media Embarassment; Also, Happy Chinese New Year

    February 13, 2013 // 14 Comments »

    As many know, this blog is produced by illegal sweat shop laborers, many from China imported just for this purpose. Only given food in relation to their improving English, many of the workers have made important contributions to our national conversation, leaving me free to pursue both my new book project as well as fulfill my life long dream of interning with the Blue Man Group.

    So, it is only right to celebrate Chinese New Year here by contrasting two social media videos, one made by the American Consulate in Hong Kong and the other by the British Consulate in Hong Kong.

    Here’s the American version. Note the pleasant infantilization of the local staff, and of course the omnipresent security emblems both drolly mocked and celebrated. Chinese workers featured by title include chauffeurs, kitchen help and of course “residence staff,” all of which you the taxpayer pay for of course. If you can’t stomach the whole thing, please do jump to about 2:56 to listen to the head of the mission, the Consul General, painfully edge his way through a simple New year’s Greeting. And don’t miss the viewer comments, where ben14896 writes “At least it is not tedious.”





    Now, let’s have a look at the British New Year’s video:




    Oh snap! There’s the British Consul General rapping out an entire video in fluent Cantonese. It remains wholly unclear to me why the U.S. continues to waste tax payer’s money on these sad little social media videos. It is clearer, however, which mission presents itself as a serious player in Hong Kong, reaching local people in their own language to create a positive impression.



    The Brits also have an English version on YouTube. See more of the U.S. State Department’s whacky social media video here,or this dreck. Why do these folks feel such a need to imitate the thousands of videos by high school kids and bored soldiers lip-syncing “Call Me Maybe?”




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    On Russia Today Television

    October 31, 2011 // Comments Off on On Russia Today Television

    Video from my recent interview with Russia Today:



    If the video is not showing above, follow this link to view it.

    Don’t miss the comments– one guy writes “100 dollars this guy will be dead with in 1 year.”



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    Posted in Democracy, Embassy/State