NYT Panned Over 'Absolutely Delusional' Tweet About Iranian Nuclear Scientist's Assassination

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Posted: Nov 28, 2020 11:45 AM
NYT Panned Over 'Absolutely Delusional' Tweet About Iranian Nuclear Scientist's Assassination

Source: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

The New York Times was widely criticized for its tweet about the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, leading critics to wonder if the paper of record had become "The New Mullah Times."

“Iranian officials, who have always maintained that their nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes, not weapons, expressed fury and vowed revenge over the assassination, calling it an act of terrorism and warmongering,” the New York Times World account wrote, linking to its story on how the assassination may provoke a new crisis.

Fakhrizadeh was shot and killed along with his bodyguards as they traveled in Absard, roughly 40 miles east of Tehran. According to U.S. and Israeli officials, he was the “driving force behind…Iran’s secretive nuclear weapons program,” the Times wrote. 

“His work continued after Iran’s push to develop a bomb was formally disbanded in 2003, according to American intelligence assessments and Iranian nuclear documents stolen by Israel nearly three years ago,” the paper said. 

Iran has blamed Israeli assassins and Washington, and vowed revenge. 

“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today,” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, wrote on Twitter. “This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators.”

The chief of staff for Iran’s armed forces, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, said “we will not rest until we track down and take revenge on those responsible for the assassination of martyr Fakhrizadeh.”

Former Obama administration officials have been critical of the assassination, with former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan calling it a "criminal act & highly reckless."

"It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict," he said. "Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage & to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits.”

Matt noted the irony of his tweet as a possible Logan Act violation, and pointed to Glenn Greenwald's observation. 

"This, ironically, is *exactly* the message that Flynn gave to Russia during the 2016 transition — hey, guys, don’t get crazy with retaliation: wait until we’re in power shortly and things will be different," he tweeted. "Maybe the FBI should investigate Brennan for Logan Act violations?"