Last week, the Associated Press (AP) reported on a heretofore secret agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) allowing Iran to carry out its own, unsupervised inspections of its suspected nuclear site at Parchin. A number of media outlets and nuclear-weapons experts responded by claiming—without evidence—that the AP had based its story on a forged document. Suggestions followed that Benjamin Netanyahu was behind the forgery. Tom Nichols writes:
Late last week, the Associated Press found itself on the receiving end of a kind of Iran-deal “trutherism,” in which people upset by an AP report on one of the Iran deal’s side-agreements have taken on the same role as the 9/11 “truthers” who were “just asking questions” about conspiracies. They’re not making direct accusations, but the implications are hard to miss. And like the 9/11 truthers, the conspiracies point to the country beloved by truthers everywhere: Israel. . . .
In the end, the most disturbing question of all is to ask what would have happened if an institution of less prominence and reputation had published this report. The Iran-deal truthers didn’t count on the AP firing back, and . . . the entire company stood behind the story. . . . [W]hile the IAEA has said the story is a “misrepresentation,” they haven’t said it’s false, either. Neither has the White House. So far, the AP and its story are still here.
The warning shot to other journalists is clear, however. Reporters with one of the most reputable news organizations in the world had to fight off odious charges for doing their job. This is apparently the price to be paid for reporting anything that challenges support for a deal that has reached, among its adherents, the status of a dogma that tolerates no heresy.