Whether it’s about the Chinese coronavirus, the Russia hoax or anything else in the news, there’s so much “information” floating around in the media that it’s almost impossible to know what’s true. Yet, trust me, there are millions of people plugged into THE NEW YORK TIMES, the WASHINGTON POST, CNN, late-night “comedy” shows and Facebook memes who believe they are extremely well-informed, always right, and much smarter than you. It doesn’t even do any good to talk to them.
Check out Scott Adams for an analysis of how the mind works to reject facts that don’t support one’s narrative. We all do this to some extent, as it’s human nature, but some do it a LOT more than others; it’s called “confirmation bias.”
To a large extent I blame the reporters, who should show enough intellectual curiosity and humility to look for ways to disprove their own opinions and their own “facts” before they unleash them on the public. My theory is that they’re afraid to look, afraid of being proven wrong, like the atheist who subconsciously is terrified to expose himself to religion and perhaps be compelled to change his mind, or, conversely, the believer who is terrified to expose himself to anything outside the walls of his church. Political ideology and/or party identification can be just as powerful a self-imposed limitation.
It’s extremely anxiety-producing to be proven wrong. For if you’re wrong about one thing, who knows what else you’re wrong about? For example, if you live in an imaginary world where Trump is always wrong, and everybody you know and respect believes Trump is always wrong, it will knock you sideways to have to admit he was right about even one tiny thing. So when it does turn out Trump was right about something, the apology is never made and the mistake never acknowledged, let alone corrected. The misinformation lives on in the Internet, forever, co-existing with the truth.
I’ve just described the liberal, Trump-hating mindset, but online rumors and “fake news” come from both left and right. About a week ago, my staff came across an email, circulated by some on the right, claiming that the father of John Kerry’s son-in-law is a mullah in Iran. Now, whether this is true or not, we could tell you plenty about John Kerry that would make anyone in his right mind want to keep him far from the seat of power. (Fortunately, he now is, but questions have arisen about his family’s relationship with Hunter Biden and the Biden family business dealings. That's for another time.)
Anyway, we were curious about that story and decided to look into it. There are some basic facts we can put together: Kerry’s son-in-law is named Behrouz Nahed; he goes by the first name Brian. He is a neurosurgeon. According to TRUE PUNDIT, he is an Iranian national. They also say that, according to some reports, his best man at his 2009 wedding to Vanessa Kerry, also a doctor, was the son of Muhammad Javid Zarif, Irans’ Minister of Foreign Affairs. Zarif was Kerry’s counterpart in negotiations for the Iran deal. Whoa.
BUT, the best man story is challenged in a piece from 2015 in THE HILL, which also says Dr. Nahed is an American citizen, born in America. Somebody’s wrong. The preponderance of the evidence would suggest it’s TRUE PUNDIT that is wrong, and that Nahed was born in New York.
Even a conservative website like THE BLAZE has debunked the “best man” rumor.
STILL, even though Muhammad Javid Zarif’s son was apparently not best man for Kerry’s son-in-law, there’s something else we found on TruthOrFiction.com that is every bit as concerning, at least to us: Kerry himself did already have a longstanding personal relationship with Zarif that predated the talks for the Iranian nuclear deal. This relationship is detailed in a 2012 book by Hoorman Majd. I do wonder about that; it is just too close for comfort.
A piece from 2013 in the DAILY CALLER goes into some detail about Dr. Nahed, who has “extensive family ties” in Iran. “Since its inception,” the story reads, “the FBI has vetted U.S. officials involved in national security, and it generally won’t grant clearances to individuals who are married to nationals of an enemy nation or have family members living in that country, for fear of divided loyalties, or, more simply, blackmail.”
Both of Dr. Nahed’s parents reportedly live in Los Angeles. His father is a pulmonologist. But shortly after Vanessa and Behrouz tied the knot, they reportedly went to Iran to visit the other relatives who live there.
Though Nahed’s father is not a mullah, the family and social connections still create such an obvious conflict of interest that Kerry should never have been involved in negotiations with Iran. I would think the conflict is so great that he should never have been approved for any cabinet-level position, let alone Secretary of State. The DAILY CALLER piece goes into just some of the problems with this.
Here’s another really good commentary, also from 2013.
So, after looking at numerous sources, we’d say this rumor is “iffy.” The central claim is not true –- Vanessa Kerry’s husband Behrouz Nahed is not the son of a mullah. His parents are physicians who work in California. And we don’t know for sure about the identify of Nahed’s best man, though we’ve seen no evidence that his father is the Iranian minister of foreign affairs. (This would not be surprising, however, given that Kerry and the Iranian minister had a social relationship.) But regardless of who the best man was, the family and social connections should have posed a huge problem for Kerry in his bid to be Secretary of State. Heck, we even turned up something else that would have been worthy of exploring: Kerry's previously existing personal relationship, going back a decade, with the Iranian minister of foreign affairs, the man with whom he was negotiating on behalf of the United States (or supposedly on our behalf)!
I don’t know why these online rumors have to be so exaggerated when the truth is plenty bad enough. “Fact-checkers” often don’t deal with the underlying truth when it’s so easy simply to debunk the exaggerated claim, generating headlines like this…
(We tend not to use FactCheck.org around here; too often we find ourselves fact-checking the fact-checkers. There’s only so much time in the day to be pushing boulders uphill.)
It’s the same with rumors about COVID-19. What we’re learning about its origins –- almost certainly from within the biolab in Wuhan –- and the PRC’s deadly deceit is so disturbing that there’s no need to exaggerate it into an even wilder story. Let’s stick to the facts as we learn them. We want to remain a solid, trusted source for truth; we would certainly report the wilder story, but only if and when the facts supported it.
We'd never even heard this rumor about Kerry and his Iranian son-in-law till now, which just goes to show how the media have covered for the former Secretary of State and exercised a shameless double standard. Imagine the uproar if, say, Jared Kushner were, say, Russian, and there were rumors that his best man was the son of some high-up Russian state official? The screaming would never stop.