Following a week of reporting that has created major doubts about the Trump administration’s claims regarding Iran and the U.S. assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, many mainstream news organizations are now taking the president’s evidence-free claim that the Iranians were planning to “blow up” an American embassy at face value on social media.
During a Thursday White House event, President Donald Trump told reporters that he ordered the strike against Soleimani “because they were looking to blow up our embassy.” The New York Times, noting that this claim was “asserted without evidence,” called it an “unsubstantiated account.” The Times added that it wasn’t clear whether Trump was referring to the protesters in Iraq who stormed the American embassy last week or to the administration’s claim that there was an “imminent” plot by Soleimani.
Many news organizations recklessly and uncritically repeated that justification from the Trump administration. Reporting from the Times subsequently revealed that “the evidence suggesting there was to be an imminent attack on American targets was ‘razor thin.’” The Times also reported that some U.S. officials saw Soleimani’s travel to Iraq as “business as usual” and intelligence suggested Soleimani was not planning an imminent attack on Americans because he did not have approval from Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some news outlets also uncritically repeated Trump’s claim that the purpose of the Soleimani strike was to prevent a war with Iran -- even though the strike obviously made that scenario more likely, with Iran launching retaliatory strikes.
Even after the Trump administration received bipartisan derision from members of Congress over its intelligence briefing attempting to justify the Soleimani assassination in which lawmakers said no evidence was provided, mainstream news organizations have failed to learn from their errors and uncritically repeated Trump’s claim: