Chuck Plunkett Loves Him Some Debunked BS

UPDATE: Aurora Sentinel Managing Editor Chris Harrop calls out Chuck Plunkett:


Denver Post editorial/news guy Chuck Plunkett.

Denver Post editorial/news guy Chuck Plunkett.

It’s not like we want to spend all of our time criticizing bad editorials, but we are obliged to point out yet another objectively absurd opinion piece from the chair of the Denver Post’s editorial board, Chuck Plunkett. Plunkett published a column this weekend under his own name titled “Darryl Glenn’s $400 million gift.” Excerpt:

The Wall Street Journal’s scoop last week revealing the $400 million in cash secreted into Iran as apparent ransom for the release of American hostages would seem to offer the Darryl Glenn campaign a strong opportunity. So it’s odd that there’s been so little from his campaign on the subject…

The quid-pro-quo appearance of the $400 million looks bad. If it is true that it was a ransom, it sets a horrible precedent and casts the nuclear deal as ill-conceived and out of touch. It’s bad politically and it’s bad for fundraising. All over the country there are potential Bennet donors who could be turned off by a successful tying of his support of the deal to the $400 million ransom.

So for starters, Plunkett seems to be trying to “help” the flagging campaign of GOP U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn by suggesting this line of attack. Given the kind of open electioneering from other local newspapers like the Colorado Springs Gazette under editorial board chair Wayne Laugesen, this isn’t really a surprise.

The larger problem here is that everything Chuck Plunkett is talking about is, as Harry Truman once famously said, “pure undiluted bullshit.” From the Associated Press’ fact-check of this “$400 million ransom” claim:

The $400 million payment — plus $1.3 billion in interest to be paid later — is a separate issue from the Iran nuclear deal that Clinton initiated. The process that resulted in the payout started decades before she became secretary of state. [Pols emphasis]

In the late 1970s the Iranian government, under the U.S.-backed shah, paid the United States $400 million for military equipment. The equipment was never delivered because in 1979, his government was overthrown, revolutionaries took American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran were severed.

In 1981, the United States and Iran agreed to set up a commission at The Hague that would rule on claims by each country for property and assets held by the other. Iran’s claim for return of the equipment payment was among many that had been tied up in litigation before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, and interest the U.S. owed for holding the money for so long was growing.

nobsSnopes continues:

In reality, however, the money transfer was the result of a settlement of a long-standing claim at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in The Hague around the same time that the prisoners were released…

The fact that the money was physically sent to Iran in various currencies rather than simply transferred by wire may seem odd in the context of the United States’ increasingly cashless society, but that was done in order to avoid existing Treasury Department sanctions that banned the use of American currency in transactions with Iran, and international sanctions which at that time kept Iran from accessing the global financial markets (and which were lifted in January 2016).

While the timing could appear to have been a suspiciously coordinated quid pro quo, the evidence points to a paper trail of years of exhaustive hearings and highly sensitive negotiations that were completely separate from the January 2016 prisoner exchange. [Pols emphasis]

And for good measure, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler:

The main thing that was new in the Wall Street Journal article was that the $400 million was paid in cash, loaded on a cargo plane, and the timing of the transfer was close to the release of the detainees. The timing — which U.S. officials insisted was a coincidence — suggested the cash could be viewed as a ransom payment. In a follow-up article, the Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department initially objected to the cash transfer for that reason.

But the $400 million was always Iran’s money. [Pols emphasis] In the 1970s, the then-pro-Western Iranian government under the shah paid $400 million for U.S. military equipment. But the equipment was never delivered because the two countries broke off relations after the seizure of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran…

After the 1981 hostage deal, the two countries set up a tribunal in The Hague to litigate outstanding claims against each other. The $400 million remained unresolved, but U.S. officials say a ruling was expected that would have resulted in the return of the $400 million plus billions of dollars in outstanding interest. [Pols emphasis] Instead, concurrent with the detainee negotiations, the two countries negotiated a deal that resulted in a return of the $400 million plus $1.3 billion in interest.

In short, we can understand Plunkett’s partisan motivation to help out Glenn, much like the open favoritism Plunkett has shown for Rep. Mike Coffman–in editorials and via highly controversial pro-Coffman decisions Plunkett made as the Post’s political newsroom director.

What’s not acceptable is Plunkett using the pages of the state’s newspaper of record to promulgate discredited bullshit. Where Plunkett could have taken two literal minutes to read the numerous fact-checks debunking this claim, he chose instead to repeat it uncritically.

To say that the Post’s readers deserve better is an understatement.

12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Diogenesdemar says:

    That ker-plunkett you just heard ????


    “Don’t worry, …
    … we’ll make more!!”

  2. Moderatus says:

    Liberals are so naive.

  3. bullshit! says:

    Does Breitbart or The Blaze have any openings? Chuckie would fit right in.

  4. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    I miss Vince Carroll. I didn't always agree with him, but his journalistic skills and ethics far surpass Mr. Plunkett.

    • BlueCat says:

      Bet I disagreed with him more consistently than you did but, yeah….no comparison. He's a decent, ethical journalist whether in agreement or not. Chuckie isn't even close.

  5. JohnInDenver says:

    And just the other day, someone said Plunkett had reached an apogee of disinformation for the year.

    There's still time left for more: I'm expecting an editorial soon about the "high unemployment rate" or an assessment of the Federal tax burden as "one of the highest in the world." Trump has any number of claims that would serve as the basis for editorials supporting Trump or Glenn.

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