Last week Politico published a major exclusive report that the “Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa” in retaliation for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani earlier this year, citing (you guessed it) anonymous government officials.
The claim was nonsensical on its face; the idea that Iran would see the assassination of some random ambassador to an irrelevant country as a proportionate response to the killing of its wildly beloved top military commander would only make sense to someone with a very US-centric worldview who knows nothing about Iran. On top of that, the South African government published a statement that “the information provided is not sufficient to sustain the allegation that there is a credible threat against the United States Ambassador to South Africa”.
The flimsy nature of this allegation was of course not enough to prevent bombastic Twitter threats from America’s manchild-in-chief that this nonexistent assassination plot “will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!” if carried out.
…caused over so many years. Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2020
It also wasn’t enough to prevent the Politico article’s co-author, Natasha Bertrand, from falsely claiming that The New York Times had “confirmed” her reporting.
“The NYT has confirmed Nahal Toosi and my reporting about Iran,” Bertrand tweeted today with a link to a new Times article, quoting the excerpt “Lana Marks, the American ambassador to South Africa and a political supporter of Trump, was a potential target of an Iranian attack…Politico earlier reported that Ms. Marks was a target.”
The New York Times has in fact not confirmed Bertrand and Toosi’s reporting, and Bertrand omits a very significant portion of text from her excerpt. Here is the quote in full, bold mine:
Lana Marks, the American ambassador to South Africa and a political supporter of Mr. Trump, was a potential target of an Iranian attack,