President Obama is being treated unfairly by the news media.
Ok. Now that I’ve got your attention, let me explain why I feel the need to defend the president. I watched his press conference yesterday on the nuclear agreement he and other countries signed with Iran. He made a good case for why he agreed to it, and his critics are making a good case why he shouldn’t have. I have my opinions about this, but that’s not the point of this post.
In addition to being concerned about a rouge nation like Iran having a nuclear weapon, I’m very concerned about the 4 Americans being held as prisoners there, especially American Pastor Saaed Abedini who is being held because of his Christian faith. So, I watched the news conference, and sure enough, a question about the 4 prisoners was brought up to the president…and this is when things got ugly.
CBS News’ Unfair Question
During the conference, CBS News’ Major Garrett asked the president this question: “Can you tell the country sir why you are content, with all the fanfare around this deal, to leave the conscious of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?”
It was apparent that the president was annoyed by the question – not just about the words – but about the tone of the reporter’s question. And I was too. To insinuate that the president is “content” with these 4 prisoners being in Iran is unfair. He is not, and his composed response was a far calmer response than I would have given.
The president responded, “I’ve got to give you credit, Major, for how you craft those questions. The notion that I’m content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails, Major, that’s nonsense, and you should know better.” Then Obama reminded everyone at the conference and viewers that he has met with families of some of the Americans held in Iranian custody, and that his administration is “working diligently to try to get them out.”
Obama explained why tying the release of the Americans to the nuclear deal would not have been an ideal plan, and it made sense to me. He said, “Nobody’s content. And our diplomats and our teams are working diligently to try and get them out. Now, if the question is ‘why we did not tie the [nuclear] negotiations to their release, think about the logic that that creates. Suddenly Iran realizes, ‘you know what, maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals.'”
Even Pastor Saaed’s Wife Agrees
In an interview by Leonardo Blair of the Christian Post, Naghmeh Abedini, Pastor Saaed’s wife, said that she supported the president’s decision saying it “makes sense” and that she knew all along that her husband’s release would not have been a part of the deal and she also made it clear that she never asked that her husband’s release be a part of the nuclear deal.
She said, “I’ve never asked for Saeed to be part of the deal but I’ve hoped that on the sidelines that his release would have been secured as we still have some leverage with the Iranian government and that has been my hope that his release would have been secured even on the sidelines.”
Fox News Not So Fair and Balanced
Despite the president’s explanation and Naghmeh Abedini’s words, Fox News published an opinion piece by Jay Sekulow entitled: Iran deal: Obama leaves Pastor Saeed, Other Americans Behind. In it he writes, “The worst case scenario has happened. The Obama administration has signed a deal with Iran – a deal that failed to secure the freedom of American Pastor Saeed Abedini and other Americans who remain imprisoned in Iran. It is unconscionable that the United States would ink a deal and leave Americans behind. But that’s exactly what has occurred.”
Really? He’s leaving them behind? That’s nonsense.
At the press conference yesterday, Obama said, “That’s why those issues (the prisoners and the nuclear deal) are not connected, but we are working every single day to try and get them out and won’t stop until they are out and rejoined with their families.”
Naghmeh Abedini confirmed this. She said, “I know they (U.S. diplomats) have also been talking to the Iranian government on the sidelines. Again, it does make sense that he was not part of the deal but I was hoping on the sidelines as they were reaching a deal they were also securing the release of Saeed and the other Americans. But his explanation does make sense. I’ve never wanted my husband to be part of having to give up something, our government and the rest of the world, for their release. And I didn’t want that to be used as part of the deal.”
Why does this bother me?
I’m not a huge fan of the president – nor have a been a huge fan of any president for that matter. Politics are messy, and truth is hard to find within politics. There’s so much gridlock and posturing that I’m pretty skeptical and cynical when it comes to politics – especially politics on a national level. So, why go to the hassle of writing this – especially when politics and pastoring are not a good mix? Because on the issue of Pastor Saaed and the other 3 prisoners, President Obama is being treated unfairly.
I have read how many presidents from the past were ripped up by Americans being held hostage on their watch. I know that Jimmy Carter was consumed with grief about the Iranian hostages during his presidency, and I believe that President Obama is no different. Sadly, many people will simply watch or read the unfair and hateful things that news outlets like CBS, Fox, and others are saying about the president on this issue and believe it.
But on this one, will you please give President Obama the benefit of the doubt that he actually does want to secure the release of these men – not just because of the political gain it may win him but simply because he’s a human who is genuinely concerned for the welfare of these lives? And will you please continue to pray for him and for the diplomats that are working to secure the release of these 4 men. May God bring these men home safely and soon.