Today the White House denied rumors that Valerie Jarrett, one of President Obama’s top advisers, is allegedly negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program. The story has proliferated in predominantly right-wing news outlets but Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told Fox News that “there is not a shred of truth to this report. It’s completely false.”
On October 21, Front Page Magazine, a fringe right-wing news outlet, reported on a New York Times story about an agreement that the Obama administration had with the Iranian government to negotiate one-on-one regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Front Page claimed that Jarrett “is almost certainly pushing for an Iranian agreement to nail down his ‘legacy.’” Then on Monday, Israeli media outlet YNet reported that Jarrett is the “key player behind the secret talks between the US and Iran.” The story cited vague “state officials” as the sources for the story.
Fox News then picked up the story, citing Iranian news blogs as “heating up” about her role but adding that the “claims of the blog have not been independently verified, and it isn’t clear how the blogger, who didn’t cite official sources, would know such details.” From there, Fox explains why “her name would come up in rumors of such talks,” and lists shaky evidence such as the baseless claim that Jarrett “urged Obama on three different occasions to cancel” the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Media Matters fully discredited the bin Laden raid claim, noting that “on the dates Obama was alleged to have canceled the ‘mission,’ there wasn’t yet a ‘mission’ to cancel.” Moreover, the White House said she “wasn’t read into super-secret plans for the raid that took place in May of 2011,” adding that the claim was an “utter fabrication.”
So, why was Jarrett’s name thrown into the story? It seems to boil down to the fact that she was born in Iran where her father once worked. Jarrett moved to the United States from Iran as a young child. Both Fox News and Ynet prominently feature Jarrett’s Iranian background in their stories. Fox News claimed that “[m]any believe she speaks Farsi, or Persian, the official language of Iran.”
Today, Fox host Martha MacCallum highlighted Jarrett’s Iranian connection, wondering if she could “bridge a relationship there” or make “arrangements” for other negotiations in the future. But even right-wing hawk John Bolton, rarely a friend to the Obama administration, wasn’t buying it, though Bolton said he wouldn’t “put it past” the Obama administration to do such a thing, claiming it would be “malpractice” to even consider Jarrett as an adviser.