Following the terrorist organization Hamas’ surprise attacks on Israel, multiple Fox News figures have claimed that President Joe Biden is at fault for a recent prisoner exchange with Iran, referencing that country’s history of supporting Hamas.
But before Fox blamed Biden for the attacks on its Sunday programming, Fox chief national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin had already debunked this false narrative. In a series of social media posts, Griffin explained that none of that money has even been spent yet and pointed out that the Trump administration had set up similar funds for Iran.
In September, right-wing media falsely attacked the deal to release Americans from Iran as a $6 billion “ransom.” Iran-backed Hamas attacked Israel in October.
- The exchange last month freed five Americans from unjust captivity while making $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds accessible for humanitarian purchases in a restricted Qatar-based account, in compliance with existing sanctions. Notably, the funds were not a payment from the U.S. but were actually Iranian money that has been frozen in South Korea. [Media Matters, 9/12/23]
- Iran has long supported Hamas with funding, weapons, and training. [Wilson Center, 5/21/21]
- Hamas attacks on Israel over the weekend have reportedly killed more than 600. [CNN, 10/8/23]
- The Associated Press: “The Republican field is blaming Joe Biden for dealing with Iran after Hamas’ attack on Israel.” AP reported that numerous Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) directly linked the $6 billion in restricted funds as part of the prisoner swap to the attacks on Israel. [The Associated Press, 10/7/23]
Following the example of Republicans, Fox figures blamed Biden’s prisoner swap with Iran for Hamas’ attacks on Israel
- Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo: “It’s not just the $6 billion that was unleashed by Joe Biden in the last two weeks” that caused the attacks. She added: “The truth is is there has been appeasement in place from day one.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 10/8/23]
- Bartiromo’s Fox program aired a graphic directly linking Biden’s prisoner swap with Hamas’ attacks on Israel. The graphic stated: “Iran-backed Hamas launches deadly attack on Israel weeks after Biden unfreezes $6B in Iranian assets.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 10/8/23]
- Fox & Friends Weekend guest Lisa Daftari: Biden “unfreezing $6 billion just a few weeks ago” “emboldened” Iran to help Hamas attack Israel. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 10/8/23]
- On Fox News Sunday, former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who set up a similar fund for Iran, linked the unfrozen Iranian funds to the Hamas attack on Israel. Pompeo dismissed a Biden administration official saying that the “decision to give them [Iran] $6 billion didn’t matter,” saying that the Biden administration’s “policy to cozy up to Iran has created enormous risk for Israel, which we are seeing play out today.” But a November 2018 CNBC report detailed Pompeo’s explanation of the Trump administration setting up a similar fund for Iran. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 10/8/23; CNBC, 11/2/18]
- Fox News Digital columnist David Marcus: “We’re not stupid. The money Iran doesn’t have to spend on food and medicine can be spent murdering Israeli children, and Joe Biden gave it to them.” [Twitter/X, 10/7/23]
- Frequent Fox guest and former Trump official Morgan Ortagus: “Iranian-backed terrorists are dragging women’s bodies through the streets. Biden has got to stop sending billions of dollars to Iran. Just stop it.” [Twitter/X, 10/7/23]
- Fox contributor Andrew McCarthy: The Biden administration is responsible for Hamas attacks on Israel. McCarthy wrote in National Review that the administration “chose to extend Tehran a lifeline of $6 billion in funding” and that the restrictions on the funds are meaningless because “money is fungible: $6 billion in new funds supposedly earmarked for food and medicine equals $6 billion in existing funds that can be shifted to Iran’s main export: jihad – like what’s happening in Israel right now.” [National Review, 10/7/23]
Fox correspondent Jennifer Griffin explained that the $6 billion fund remains untouched, and that the Trump administration set up a similar fund for Iran
- Fox News chief national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin: Those blaming Biden “are missing some key facts.” In a social media post, Griffin explained: “Those who are saying that this $6 billion that was part of the American hostage release negotiated by the Biden administration likely fueled the Hamas invasion are missing some key facts….None of the money has been spent yet. It remains in a Qatari bank under US Treasury watch.” [Twitter/X, 10/7/23]
- Griffin: The Trump administration used a similar mechanism to allow Iran to use oil money to make humanitarian purchases. Griffin explained: “Under the Trump administration 4 banks worldwide were allowed to hold money from Iranian oil sales to 4 countries.” She added, “Under the Trump Admin deal that preceded Biden hostage deal, Iran could draw on that money for humanitarian purchases that had to be verified by the US Treasury.” [Twitter/X, 10/7/23, 10/7/23]
- White House National Security Council: None of the money from the $6 billion fund for Iran to purchase humanitarian supplies has been spent, and it has “absolutely nothing to do with” the attacks. NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said: “Not a single cent from these funds has been spent, and when it is spent, it can only be spent on things like food and medicine for the Iranian people. These funds have absolutely nothing to do with the horrific attacks today and this is not the time to spread disinformation.” [The Associated Press, 10/7/23]
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “The previous administration set up a very similar mechanism to enable Iran to use” such funds “for humanitarian purposes.” During a CNN interview, Blinken added: “So people are either misinformed, or they're misinforming. And either way, it's wrong.” [Twitter/X, 10/8/23]
- In 2018, Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained its similar setup that would allow “revenue from Iranian oil purchased through waivers” to “sit in foreign accounts and can only be used by Iran to purchase humanitarian goods and non-sanctioned items.” [CNBC, 11/2/18]
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.