Group provided major funds to NPR to sell Iran deal to wary public

by WorldTribune Staff, May 23, 2016

A group the White House said played a “critical role” in securing the Iran nuclear deal doled out large amounts of cash to National Public Radio (NPR) and Jewish lobby J Street to sell the deal to a wary public.

The Ploughshares Fund group gave National Public Radio $100,000 last year to help it report on the pact and related issues. The group has given $700,000 to NPR since 2005 for coverage of national security issues.

P5+1 nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland in March 2015. /Reuters
P5+1 nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland in March 2015. /Reuters

J Street was the largest beneficiary of Ploughshares last year with over $575,000 in grants that funded advocacy for the Iran nuclear deal.

The White House said Ploughshares, which seeks to eliminate the world’s nuclear stockpiles, played an “absolutely critical role” in the nuclear accord and credited the group with “tipping the scales towards this extraordinary policy victory.”

NPR said its coverage was not affected by Ploughshares’ agenda. “As with all support received, we have a rigorous editorial firewall process in place to ensure our coverage is independent and is not influenced by funders or special interests,” NPR asserted.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, a leading critic of the Iran deal, said he asked NPR on several occasions last year to be interviewed as a counterweight to a Democratic supporter of the agreement, Rep. Adam Schiff, who regularly appeared on NPR. But NPR refused to put Pompeo on the air.

According to an Associated Press report, Joseph Cirincione, Ploughshares’ president, spoke about the nuclear negotiations on NPR at least twice last year. According to AP, the station identified Ploughshares as an NPR funder one of those times; the other time, it didn’t.

J Street said the nuclear deal improves Israel’s security.

“J Street worked to advance the nuclear agreement with Iran out of the belief that this is an important agreement which contributes mightily to Israel’s security,” J Street said.

“This is a belief that is shared with many officials in both the Obama administration as well as the Israeli defense establishment and among many in the American Jewish community, most of which supports the agreement,” the organization said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been from the start vehemently opposed to the Iran deal, as are the majority of Israel’s citizens.

Ploughshares granted The National Iranian American Council, another top beneficiary, over $281,000.