Fox brought on an Iraq War booster and anti-Iran hawks to talk about the nuclear deal

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

The day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented material that he claimed showed Iran had lied about the objective of its currently inactive nuclear weapons program -- information reportedly already known to American and European leaders -- Fox News almost exclusively hosted guests who hyped Netanyahu’s claims and advocated ending the Iran nuclear deal and taking hawkish positions against Iran.

On April 30, Netanyahu appeared on Israeli media to present evidence that Iran had been dishonest about its pursuit of nuclear weapons. But as Vox explained, “the nuclear weapons research program he was discussing ended about 15 years ago,” and Netanyahu offered no information to suggest that Iran is violating the 2015 nuclear deal’s provisions restricting its nuclear activities. Iran’s lies about the now-inactive program were already known, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the global nuclear watchdog, have confirmed that there’s no evidence Iran hasn’t complied with the deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Many saw Netanyahu’s presentation, delivered in English and heavily sprinkled with images and words printed in large text, as an attempt to persuade President Donald Trump to decertify the deal. That interpretation was reinforced when, the following day, Netanyahu himself appeared on Fox & Friends to restate his pitch. (Trump regularly watches the program.)

Later in the show, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice argued that pulling out of the nuclear deal would be “just fine” and not “the disaster that everybody is talking about.” As a member of the George W. Bush administration, Rice demonstrated a hawkish vision for addressing Middle East affairs, including advocating for the invasion of Iraq. Rice claimed in 2011 that “the intelligence was as clear as any intelligence I've ever seen” that Saddam Hussein had access to weapons of mass destruction (he didn't), and in 2017, she admitted that the U.S.-led interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia were not about spreading democracy, as the Bush administration had claimed they were at the time. Rice also made an appearance on Fox’s The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino later in the day and appeared as a guest on CBS This Morning, each time brushing off the ramifications of ending the deal.

On America’s Newsroom, Michael Waltz voiced support for exiting the agreement. Waltz was a counterterrorism adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney and now works for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, an organization long known for promoting hawkish Middle East policies, advocating aggressive positions against Iran, and aligning itself with Netanyahu’s Likud party in Israel. Raj Shah, White House principal deputy press secretary, also appeared on America’s Newsroom and denigrated the nuclear deal as “the worst negotiated deal in the history of kind of modern time by this government,” as did Ambassador Dani Dayan, the consul general of Israel in New York, who also appeared later in the show to hype Netanyahu’s presentation.

Another Netanyahu surrogate, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, pushed the Israeli prime minister’s talking points on Happening Now. And Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), who has been a vocal opponent of the deal, appeared on Outnumbered Overtime, saying Iran will “get a bomb eventually” because it was “laid out in the plans.”

Former CIA chief of station Daniel Hoffman and retired Col. Douglas MacGregor were the only guests to appear on Fox to talk about Iran all day who didn’t attack the deal and push Netanyahu’s context-free talking points.

Additionally, several Fox News contributors themselves overtly pushed for the decertification of the deal, with some falsely claiming that Iran had violated the deal and opened the door for Trump to end it.