In the immediate aftermath of the horrific invasion of Israel on October 7, it was clear to any sane observer that Hamas could not have managed to pull off such a complicated attack on its own. Indeed, within two days, a Hamas spokesman told the BBC that Iran had given its support to the attack—not a surprise, considering that Iran has long been a state sponsor of Hamas terrorism, and of that committed by Israel’s terrorist neighbor to the north, Hezbollah. The Wall Street Journal followed up with a more detailed accounting of Iran’s involvement, noting, “Iranian security officials helped plan Hamas’s Saturday surprise attack on Israel and gave the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut last Monday, according to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah.”
It is thus not odd to ask, as many Americans did on social-media platforms, whether the recent announcement by the Biden administration that it had freed up $6 billion for Iran in exchange for the release of five American hostages might not have been the wisest move.
The Biden administration adamantly rejected any such questioning. Deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates posted on Twitter/X, “Shameful lies when supporting Israel should be the focus. Fact: 0 taxpayer $[.] Fact: No Iranian $ spent yet[.] Fact: When spent, Iranian money can only be used by private actors to provably buy food and medicine[.] No reporter should spread this misinformation without fact checking.”
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson also chimed in: “These funds have absolutely nothing to do with the horrific attacks today and this is not the time to spread disinformation.” And State Department spokesman Matthew Miller added, “Not a penny has been spent, and when it is, it can only go for humanitarian needs like food and medicine. Anything to the contrary is false.”
As it often does, the New York Times editorial board dutifully carried water for the administration’s spin. After tut-tutting Israel for engaging in inappropriate “collective punishment” by cutting off electricity to Gaza, the Times added: “Some Republican presidential candidates tried to put some blame for the attack on the administration’s recent decision to release $6 billion in blocked Iranian funds in exchange for the release of five Americans detained in Iran. This is a distraction. There is no evidence those funds could have inspired or facilitated the Hamas attack, and these claims do not help Israel’s defense.”
While the $6 billion might not have been cashed and spent by Hamas yet, even Secretary of State Antony Blinken had to admit on NBC News on October 8 that such behavior was a likely possibility in the future. Asked about the argument that the money is fungible, and that, knowing an infusion of $6 billion was on the way, Iran could have diverted existing resources to Hamas, Blinken said, “Iran has unfortunately always used and focused its funds on supporting terrorism.”
Indeed, as the Washington Free Beacon’s indefatigable Iran reporter Adam Kredo has documented, the Biden administration has long known that money given to Iran and to the Palestinians was frequently diverted to Hamas, a designated terrorist group. A 2021 State Department memo obtained by the Beacon revealed that Biden’s State Department sought an exemption from the Treasury Department so that it could release $360 million to the Palestinians. The exemption was needed because “we assess there is a high risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza.”
Why then are administration officials falsely claiming it is “disinformation” when Republican politicians and the public ask about the risks taken by the Biden administration regarding Iran? As Eli Lake noted in the Free Press, the Biden administration should be reckoning with “the fact that it has done a deal with Hamas’s most powerful and important patron.”
The mainstream press has been reluctant to pursue such a reckoning. Why?
One clue can be found in how the media handled another recent Biden administration scandal regarding Iran: the case of Robert Malley, a boyhood friend of Blinken and the Biden administration’s special envoy to Iran. He is currently under investigation by the FBI after being placed on leave for supposedly mishandling classified material. Thanks to the reporting of Kredo at the Beacon, as well as an investigation by Jay Solomon at Semafor, we know that Malley was an eager participant in an Iranian influence scheme that spanned years and revealed high-ranking officials in Biden’s State and Defense Departments toadying up to the Iran regime.
Malley was no doubt cultivated by Iran because of his well-known enthusiasm for Hamas, with whom he’d met on numerous occasions. His apologias for this brutal terrorist organization were so clearly questionable that Barack Obama removed him as an adviser to his 2008 campaign (only to bring him back as his Iran “czar” after he won). In a 2008 interview, Malley urged people to see Hamas not just “in terms of their terrorist-violence dimension.” He said, “There’s so much misinformation about them. None of them are crazies. They may do things that we consider to belong to a different realm of rationality, but within their own system it’s often very logical.”
This is the person whom both Obama and Biden have entrusted with crafting American policy toward Iran. And yet the New York Times reported on Malley’s suspension with an anodyne story that claimed he “seemed to be playing a less prominent role in U.S. policy to Iran in recent months.” There have been no further investigative stories by Times reporters. Likewise, the Washington Post merely rehearsed Malley’s résumé in a story about his being placed on leave. It is not difficult to imagine that reporters would call this far worse than disturbing had such a clear-cut influence operation hatched by one of America’s enemies been uncovered during Donald Trump’s (or any Republican) administration.
The press’s credulousness about the Biden administration’s deeply misguided policy toward Iran is understandable within the broader context of its reporting, however: It’s impossible not to get the sense that, particularly since Biden’s disastrous withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the mainstream media are highly reluctant to report on foreign-policy messes. Biden’s approval ratings never recovered from that debacle, and that was partly because the press couldn’t ignore it. Mainstream media outlets have slow-walked or ignored many negative stories since (the crisis at the southern border in particular), perhaps having seen just how profound an impact such stories can have on President Biden’s reelection hopes.
Reporting thoroughly and honestly on Biden’s foreign-policy failures would also require the press to revisit its own shameless flattery of Biden when he was running for office. In its endorsement of Biden, the Times editorial board waxed rhapsodic over his “unusually rich grasp of and experience in foreign policy” and claimed that “he has the respect and trust of America’s allies and would not be played for a fool by its adversaries.”
Instead, many in the mainstream media prefer to engage in reprehensible exercises in moral equivalency, such as the ones on display 24/7 on MSNBC since the attack on Israel and in outlets such as the Huffington Post, which recently featured a story with the headline, “Media Calls the Attack on Israel Unprovoked. Experts Say That’s Historically Inaccurate.” As Israeli children were being kidnapped and slaughtered by Hamas, babies beheaded, women raped and beaten, their bodies dragged through the streets of Gaza while crowds cheered, a Teen Vogue writer, Najma Sharif, posted on X, “What did y’all think decolonization meant? vibes? papers? essays? losers.” Her post was liked by Washington Post opinions editor Karen Attiah and hundreds of thousands of others—apologists for terror, all.
The attacks on Israel have revealed to a wider public some ugly truths not just about the barbarism of Hamas, but also about its Western supporters and a cowardly media establishment that often pretends not to see what is directly in front of its face. But now we can see that face clearly: an amalgam of enthusiastic supporters of barbarism and incurious stenographers for an administration whose foreign-policy incompetence contributed to the worst day for Jews since the Holocaust.
Photo: AP Photo/Florian Schroetter
We want to hear your thoughts about this article. Click here to send a letter to the editor.