The Strange World of The State Department Spokespersons…And a Modest Suggestion

by | Feb 2, 2016


Anyone wondering why the rest of the world sees the US administration as insane — or worse — need only spend a few minutes watching a daily briefing from the White House or especially the US State Department. These are not endeavors by intelligent and rational representatives of the US government to help explain US policies to the press corps and thereby to the rest of the world, but rather mind-numbingly sophomoric and barely literate diatribes.

Who can forget the exchange between AP’s top diplomatic reporter Matt Lee and State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, where Mr. Lee questioned Harf on her assertion that US “evidence” for its claim that Russia was involved in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 over Ukraine came from “social media.” Pressing Harf for any evidence, he asked “is there anything other than social media” to back US claims? Yes, she said, but only offered that the US assessment was based on “common sense.”

Then there was that hilarious moment when former State Department Spokesperson Jan Psaki answered accusations by the Venezuelan government that the US was trying to push a regime change on the country.

Impossible, Psaki told the press corps:

These accusations, like all such previous accusations, are ludicrous. As a matter of longstanding policy the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and legal.

It is priceless to watch as Psaki is busted, again by AP reporter Matt Lee, at 1:13, for such an objectively untrue statement. And don’t miss the look on her face at 1:30. Everyone in the room, not the least Psaki herself, knows it’s an outrageous lie. The US was by that time eyebrow deep in its Syria regime-change program, had turned Libya into an al-Qaeda and ISIS safe haven with its “political transition” there, and had openly supported an unconstitutional and illegal coup in Ukraine just a year and a half earlier. Not to mention Afghanistan, Iraq, and attempts in Lebanon, Cyprus, Moldova, Macedonia, Belarus, and so on and so on.

John Kirby is a retired US Navy rear admiral who was named State Department Spokesman last May, taking over for the discredited Jan Psaki. If the press corps thought the level of debate could not get any lower in the post-Psaki era, they were sorely mistaken. The logical fallacies, gaffes, mis-steps, and all out boners pulled by Kirby make Psaki look Shakespearian by comparison.

Kirby is like a seedy but obtuse used car salesman dishing out doublespeak at a frenzied pace yet filled with righteous indignation when the rest of us smell the bovine feces suffusing his illogic.

Today’s exchange is classic Kirby. The US accused Russia of violating Turkish airspace again last week and the Russians have denied the claim. Kirby is questioned by an RT reporter as to whether the US might provide evidence to back up its accusation. Here’s how Spokesperson Kirby responded:

You know, you’re so good at asking these questions that it’s the United States’ responsibility to provide proof of what Russia is doing. Which I find incredibly comical. It’s not our job to confirm for the Russians what they’re doing. … We can confirm that on the 29th of January another Russian combat aircraft violated Turkish and NATO airspace.

Reminded that it was the US making the accusations of an airspace violation and that Russia denied US claims and requested proof, Kirby again seemed incapable of understanding that the burden of proof lies with the accuser. He shot back:

It’s not our responsibility to provide proof to the Russians for something they did wrong. …But for our part, there’s no doubt that they entered Turkish and therefore NATO airspace.

The exchange really must be seen to be believed:

Here’s a bonus round from last month: Kirby confronted by the State Department’s denial of reality in the case of North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons and Crimea’s reunion with Russia.

MATT LEE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: And then the last one is – and every time this happens, the line comes out from people in this Administration and other governments as well, is that we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, and yet, it is. You also say this about other things too. You say you will never accept Crimea as a part of Russia. And yet, it is. Isn’t it time to recognize these things for what they are and not live in this illusion or fantasy where you pretend that things that are, are not?



MR KIRBY: But I would challenge —

QUESTION: It’s preferable to live in a fantasy world?

MR KIRBY: I would challenge this idea that it’s a fantasy world. Just because – let me put it this way. At this level of foreign policy, you have to make choices. And you don’t have to accept everything —

QUESTION: You have to accept reality, though.

MR KIRBY: — even at face value. No, you – we are not going to accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, and we’re not going to recognize that. We are, however, going to deal with their efforts —

QUESTION: The fact that they are a nuclear-armed state.

MR KIRBY: — their efforts at developing that program.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you understand my confusion? I know this – I think it’s illogical to say that you’re not going to recognize them as a nuclear-armed state when, in fact, they are and you are operating in a way —

I think if the State Department really wants to continue down this route of illogical and anti-intellectual spokespersons who offer head-scratching non-answers to legitimate questions about US behaviors, they need to ditch the retired Navy admiral and even the Harfs and the Psakis of the world. These are mere pikers.

Who’s my pick for the next team to explain US policy actions abroad?

Imagine these young ladies explaining why the US droned, bombed, or invaded yet another country!


  • Daniel McAdams

    Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and co-Producer/co-Host, Ron Paul Liberty Report. Daniel served as the foreign affairs, civil liberties, and defense/intel policy advisor to U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, MD (R-Texas) from 2001 until Dr. Paul’s retirement at the end of 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, and traveled through the former communist bloc as a human rights monitor and election observer.

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