Mystery edit of State Department briefing began with call about Fox News and Iran

A phone call made to a technician at the State Department about editing the daily press briefing specifically mentioned Fox News and Iran.

Last week when State Department spokesman John Kirby described the results of the investigation he suggested the reason for requesting the edit would remain a mystery. From Fox News:

Kirby added: “There’s no evidence to suggest [the deletion] was made with the intent to conceal information from the public and … there is no evidence to indicate who might have placed that call or why.”

What Kirby omitted was that the legal adviser’s report — shared with news organizations on condition they not publish it in full — did indeed contain evidence to indicate why the unidentified supervisor demanded the deletion, in a section of the report captioned “Evidence of Purposeful Editing.”

“The technician did not recall a reason being given for the edit request,” the report stated, “but did believe that the requester had mentioned in the course of the call a Fox network reporter and Iran.” The report continued: “The technician indicated that the requester may also have provided the start and end times for an edit.”

That sounds like pretty clear evidence of a specific motive and yet the State Department is saying we may never know who requested this or why. In fact, it’s worse than that. Last Thursday, Kirby spent nearly 35 minutes responding to reporters who were in disbelief that he seems to be resurrecting the glitch excuse for the edit.

The official explanation is that the request for the edit was made and the technician remembers making it; however, the investigation leaves open the possibility that there was a technical glitch which removed the material in question before the call requesting the edit came in. I know you’re probably thinking that makes no sense at all, and yet it is what the Department is saying.

The report also notes that the call requesting the edit was made by a woman supervisor. Fox reports the technician told investigators he “did not believe” Jen Psaki made the request but couldn’t remember who else it might have been.

If you want to see one of the least convincing spin efforts ever made by the Obama administration, watch the first half-hour of this briefing. Unless video technicians are willing to roll over on their powerful supervisors by name it’s just as likely that a mysterious technical glitch was responsible for this. It’s entirely laughable but we’re not supposed to laugh.