Unable to Produce Evidence, State Dept. Spox Hits Reporter With Russia Smear

It’s been more than a month since the “imminent” invasion was coming so a new threat needed to be cooked up in the bowels of Foggy Bottom and Langley, writes Daniel McAdams.

Matt Lee of the Associated Press. (State Dept./Flickr)

[Full video and transcript of exchange at the bottom of this article.]

By Daniel McAdams
Ron Paul Institute

It is so rare to see an actual journalist rather than a regime stenographer in the U.S. mainstream media that there really needs to be a federal “endangered species” protection designation. In this case it would be AP’s Matt Lee, their diplomatic affairs correspondent, who’s been around the block many times and whose reputation is that he takes no crap from flacks regardless of party. Imagine that!

So in Thursday’s State Department brief, spokesman Ned Price was given the unenviable task of dressing up the Administration’s latest offering of bovine excrement and selling it as a gourmet dip. At issue was a “leaked” story in the Washington Post – ahem -that Russia is planning an elaborate video fabrication of a Ukrainian attack on eastern Ukraine to serve as a false flag to justify a Russian incursion into Ukraine.

This after a month or so of the U.S. Administration insisting that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was “imminent.” It was a claim dramatically refuted by none other than the one political leader who on paper would benefit most from such a narrative –  the Ukrainian president himself – who told Biden on a phone call to go take his meds and stop fear-mongering about a Russian invasion of Ukraine!

So a new threat needed to be cooked up in the bowels of Foggy Bottom and Langley.

Enter Ned Price from the State Department, who had the thankless task today of selling the hollow narrative that U.S. intelligence had uncovered a fantastical plot by the Russians to bring in crisis actors and fake bodies to sell a false narrative to justify their no longer “imminent” invasion of Ukraine.

The whole thing is reminiscent of the Obama Administration’s absurd suggestion that the attack on the U.S. CIA installation in Benghazi, Libya, was motivated by a laughable anti-Muslim video (instead of a U.S. arms deal gone wrong, as Sen. Paul uncovered).

Price’s pathetic talking point was this: we are declassifying intelligence information that Russia is about to release a fake video of a Ukrainian attack on Donbas as a false flag to open the door to Russian involvement.

Here’s a summary of what followed [Full transcript here]:

AP’s Matt Lee replied with a question any normal journalist would ask before our current era: “OK, but what evidence do you have that this is indeed the case?”

Ned: “Well that’s it – my ‘declassified’ claim that Russia is about to do it.”

Matt Lee: “Well, that’s not ‘declassified’ information, that’s just you claiming it. Surely you understand the difference. I mean, crisis actors, fake dead bodies – that’s Alex Jones territory.”

Ned: “You are a Russian propagandist.”

Yes this is the Reader’s Digest version, but essentially this is what took place in the extraordinary State Dept. briefing on Thursday. [Price told Lee: “If you doubt the credibility of the U.S. government, of the British government of other governments and wanna, you know, find solace in information that the Russians are putting out, that’s for you to do.”]

The U.S. government’s position position is that if you ask for any evidence of a U.S. government claim … you are a Putin agent!

Our friend, the analyst, Caitlin Johnstone also perfectly captures the absurdity of the Biden claims in this thread:

But as the bipartisan support for bovine excrement continues to pollute the barnyard, at least we can thank Matt Lee from otherwise odious AP for refusing to thrust his chip into the Biden dip…

Daniel McAdams is executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

This article is from the Ron Paul Institute.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Transcript of exchange between Price and Lee.

QUESTION: Thanks. Okay, well, that’s quite a mouthful there. So you said “actions such as these suggest otherwise” – suggest meaning that they suggest they’re not interested in talks and they’re going to go ahead with some kind of a – what action are you talking about?

MR PRICE: One, the actions I have just pointed to, the fact –

QUESTION: What action? What —

MR PRICE: The fact that Russia continues to engage in disinformation campaigns.

QUESTION: Well no, you’ve made an allegation that they might do that. Have they actually done it?

MR PRICE: What we know, Matt, is what we – what I have just said, that they have engaged in this activity, in this planning activity —

QUESTION: Well, engage in what – hold on a second. What activity?

MR PRICE: But let me – let me – because obviously this is not – this is not the first time we’ve made these reports public. You’ll remember that just a few weeks ago –

QUESTION: I’m sorry, made what report public?

MR PRICE: If you let me finish, I will tell you what report we made public.


MR PRICE: We told you a few weeks ago that we have information indicating Russia also has already pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine. So that, Matt, to your question, is an action that Russia has already taken.

QUESTION: No, it’s an action that you say that they have taken, but you have shown no evidence to confirm that. And I’m going to get to the next question here, which is: What is the evidence that they – I mean, this is – like, crisis actors? Really? This is like Alex Jones territory you’re getting into now. What evidence do you have to support the idea that there is some propaganda film in the making?

MR PRICE: Matt, this is derived from information known to the U.S. Government, intelligence information that we have declassified. I think you know —

QUESTION: Okay, well, where is it? Where is this information?

MR PRICE: It is intelligence information that we have declassified.

QUESTION: Well, where is it? Where is the declassified information?

MR PRICE: I just delivered it.

QUESTION: No, you made a series of allegations and statements —

MR PRICE: Would you like us to print out the topper? Because you will see a transcript of this briefing that you can print out for yourself.

QUESTION: But that’s not evidence, Ned. That’s you saying it. That’s not evidence. I’m sorry.

MR PRICE: What would you like, Matt?

QUESTION: I would like to see some proof that you – that you can show that —

MR PRICE: Matt, you have been —

QUESTION: — that shows that the Russians are doing this.


QUESTION: Ned, I’ve been doing this for a long time, as you know.

MR PRICE: I know. That was my point. You have been doing this for quite a while.


MR PRICE: You know that when we declassify intelligence, we do so in a means —

QUESTION: That’s right. And I remember WMDs in Iraq, and I —

MR PRICE: — we do so with an eye to protecting sources and methods.

QUESTION: And I remember that Kabul was not going to fall. I remember a lot of things. So where is the declassified information other than you coming out here and saying it?

MR PRICE: Matt, I’m sorry you don’t like the format, but we have —

QUESTION: It’s not the format. It’s the content.

MR PRICE: I’m sorry you don’t like the content. I’m sorry you —

QUESTION: It’s not that I don’t like it or —

MR PRICE: I’m sorry you are doubting the information that is in the possession of the U.S. Government.


MR PRICE: What I’m telling you is that this is information that’s available to us. We are making it available to you in order – for a couple reasons. One is to attempt to deter the Russians from going ahead with this activity. Two, in the event we’re not able to do that, in the event the Russians do go ahead with this, to make it clear as day, to lay bare the fact that this has always been an attempt on the part of the Russian Federation to fabricate a pretext.

QUESTION: Yes, but you don’t have any evidence to back it up other than what you’re saying. It’s like you’re saying, “We think – we have information the Russians may do this,” but you won’t tell us what the information is. And then when you’re asked —

MR PRICE: Well, that is the idea behind deterrence, Matt. That is the idea behind deterrence.

QUESTION: When you’re asked – and when you’re asked —

MR PRICE: It is our hope that the Russians don’t go forward with this.

QUESTION: And when you’re asked what the information is, you say, “I just gave it to you.” But that’s not what —

MR PRICE: You seem not to understand —

QUESTION: That’s not the way it works.

MR PRICE: You seem not to understand the idea of deterrence.

QUESTION: No, no, no, Ned. You don’t – you seem not to understand the idea of —

MR PRICE: We are trying to deter the Russians from moving forward with this type of activity. That is why we are making it public today. If the Russians don’t go forward with this, that is not ipso facto an indication that they never had plans to do so.

QUESTION: But then it’s unprovable. I mean, my God, what is the evidence that you have that suggests that the Russians are even planning this?

MR PRICE: Matt, you —

QUESTION: I mean, I’m not saying that they’re not. But you just come out and say this and expect us just to believe it without you showing a shred of evidence that it’s actually true – other than when I ask or when anyone else asks what’s the information, you said, well, I just gave it to you, which was just you making a statement.

MR PRICE: Matt, you said yourself you’ve been in this business for quite a long time. You know that when we make information – intelligence information public we do so in a way that protects sensitive sources and methods. You also know that we do so – we declassify information – only when we’re confident in that information.

QUESTION: But Ned, you haven’t given any information.

MR PRICE: If you doubt – if you doubt the credibility of the U.S. Government, of the British Government, of other governments, and want to find solace in information that the Russians are putting out —


MR PRICE: — that is for you to do.

QUESTION: I don’t want – I’m not asking what the Russian Government is putting out. And what do you – what is that supposed to mean? ….

19 comments for “Unable to Produce Evidence, State Dept. Spox Hits Reporter With Russia Smear

  1. Afdal
    February 5, 2022 at 22:51

    Wait… this wasn’t an Onion skit?

  2. sylvia bennet
    February 5, 2022 at 15:41

    The pathetic little TwerpPrice. Unable to justify his statement. Falls back on the “Russian Smear”
    What a sad indictment of the Government he represents. They think they can feed the public any old trash and it will be believed. That is the essence of the contempt they feel and the public lets them get away with it.
    Boundless admiration for Matt Lee.

  3. Mark Underwood
    February 5, 2022 at 11:30

    What happened to that Nigerian yellow cake?

  4. Brian
    February 5, 2022 at 11:30

    Looks like the US State Department has found a new role for the Syrian White Helmets, the ISIS affiliated group portrayed as a humanitarian organization. They were adept at creating fake videos about rebel gas attacks that were falsely blamed on the Assad government. I will have to assume they have since honed their skills since some of their previous work was shoddy and was exposed as fake at the time.

    If a video showing crisis actors and explosions in an attack on Donbas by the Kiev-led government on the forces of Donetsk and Luhansk is released to the public, it will have been produced by the White Helmets.

    See there’s my proof — I just said it.

  5. Consortiumnews.com
    February 5, 2022 at 04:49

    Full transcript of Price-Lee exchange:


  6. Eddie S
    February 4, 2022 at 22:12

    As several commentors alluded-to above, it is very frustrating to see how the MSM pundits are still able to push the USG as an unquestionably credible source on international politics when there’s been numerous PROVEN instances of that NOT being true, with the Iraq WMDs alone being enough to disqualify this unearned credibility for at least a generation! That case was SO blatant, and SO tragic for the 100’s of thousands of Iraqis who died as well as the 4000+ US soldiers/personnel, but still the voters re-elected ‘W’ and doubles-down on the US exceptionalism.

    IMO, the other half of the equation (ie; mainstream politicians & MSM being the first half, since for all intents and purposes they function as a team) is the majority of the US voters who virtually demand these politicians and MSM. They don’t want to show any interest-in —- much-less practice any healthy skepticism —- their country’s role in international politics, they just want to be pandered-to and then be blindly militaristic when the MSM & politicians tell them to, much like a rabid sports fan demanding only fawning coverage of the home team.

  7. ron R
    February 4, 2022 at 16:38

    I remember Colin Powell telling the UN that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that were never found. I remember the Village Idiot telling the US public after 9/11 that it was his job to keep the US safe.
    I remember Bill Clinton saying he never had sexual relations with that girl.

  8. Guy
    February 4, 2022 at 16:24

    This was good .It is essentially laughable . Now for all of to see in broad daylight ,the US administration , read CIA in this case,have absolutely nothing ,nothing to back up their claims . Anyone else feel sorry for the dumba$$ Ned Price who was given the task to justify
    a lie ?
    I had watched it earlier from another source but CN put icing on the cake .LOL

  9. Jeff Harrison
    February 4, 2022 at 14:43

    I loved it! If you don’t wanna believe the USG or the UKG but will listen to the Russian government, that’s up to you. Far as I can tell the Russians have done a lot less lying than the US and UK. The Russians, for example, have not produced a Gulf of Tonkin “incident” or an Iraqi WMD “threat” or a Libyan incipient humanitarian “disaster” or a Uigarland genocide or forced labor lie or a Russiagate lie (and we still haven’t returned Russia’s seized properties, or allowed their diplomats to return, or lifted the sanctions for their non-existent interference in our elections). So, yeah, the USG and the UKG are proven liars. Believe none of what they say until you see/hear incontrovertible proof with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each explaining what each one is.

  10. February 4, 2022 at 14:16

    Ah, yes. The classic “sources and methods” deflection.

    “Historically, the United States has disclosed classified information when it has suited its purposes. One need not go all the way back to the release of U-2 photography during the Cuban missile crisis, or to President Ronald Reagan’s decision to sacrifice a lucrative source (which enabled us to intercept and decipher Libyan communications) to prove that Libya was behind the April 5, 1986, bombing of a Berlin disco that killed two and wounded 79 US servicemen [though skepticism is even warranted in seemingly cut-and-dry cases, as Victor Ostrovsky’s alleged insider account of the Mossad’s ‘Operation Trojan’ falsely implicating Libya and inducing the United States’s ‘Operation El Dorado Canyon’ can attest – see Richard H. Curtiss, ‘The Israeli Deception That Led to the Bombing of Pan American Flight 103 Over Lockerbie, Scotland,’ The Daily Star (Beirut), October/November 1999]. Much more recently, in 2014 and 2015, the United States released significant details to verify the successful hack by which China stole over 21.5 million official records, including security background investigations, from the Office of Personnel Management.”

    “A Leak or a Hack?: A Forum on the VIPS Memo,” The Nation, September 1, 2017

    • David Otness
      February 4, 2022 at 19:19

      Ah yes, the fabled U-2 Cuban photography from 1962—that which ginned up screaming matches in the Kennedy White House and nearly caused a nuclear chain reaction in General Curtis “Dr Strangelove” LeMay’s cigar.
      JFC,! What a great President—for the ages—we had in John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a young man thought pliable by the cynical old men like Allen Dulles. A man for the moment, so suddenly in command of hard-bitten generals and a rabid, beyond reason anti-communist establishment. He calmly stood up to such hot-headed louts as the JCS and its CIA-entwined supporters.

      We lost so much when the bastards turned on JFK with all of their murderous and malevolent wrath, but he did manage to save our civilization in those so very intense moments. Like I said, a President, a leader, for the Ages.

      It continues to go largely un-noted, all of these years later, that unknown to U.S. leadership of that time—some of those U-2-observed Soviet missile emplacements in Cuba were actually active: armed and aimed at U.S. targets—something hot-headed generals, diplomats, and a bloodthirsty and accommodating press who wanted to bomb and invade Cuba in the heat of that moment overlooked.
      How are we doing today in comparison?

      • David Otness
        February 4, 2022 at 19:22

        I should have clarified General Curtis LeMay was the inspiration for General Jack D. Ripper in the film “Dr Strangelove.”

      • GBC
        February 6, 2022 at 12:46

        Martin Sherwin’s final book, “Gambling with Armageddon” provides an excellent, readable overview of the crisis. At first, Kennedy was–along with the rest of his cabinet, and of course all the military chiefs–intending to attack and probably invade. Which would have gone nuclear, since as you write, the US did not know the missiles were nuclear. What was new to me was Adlai Stevenson’s key role in this, while UN ambassador. He was the only one who advocated a diplomatic route, and Kennedy wisely adopted his advice (without giving him much credit), while the rest of the cabinet and advisors went back and forth on what extent of force to use and when. Also of note–and this relates to Sherwin’s point that it was largely by lucky accident that a nuclear war was avoided–was the role of a Soviet Navy officer in preventing the firing of a nuclear armed torpedo when the sub he was aboard fell under attack by ASW. Additionally, an Okinawan missile site received a mistaken code to fire its missiles–most on China. Only the persistence of the officer on charge to confirm the dubious order twice prevented another officer from firing off missiles. Two lucky accidents, and one sensible president and a UN ambassador who believed in diplomacy first.

  11. scott
    February 4, 2022 at 13:07

    A real journalist holding a government spokesperson accountable for his own comments. Amen

  12. michael888
    February 4, 2022 at 12:01

    ALMOST unbelievable.

    Just shows what American government has devolved into, and what they will claim without any pretense of evidence. In a Police State, government and State Media do not need to justify their actions beyond “we are in Authority”.

    Good, but probably with repercussions, for Matt Lee to expose the duplicity.

  13. torture this
    February 4, 2022 at 11:11

    From past experience, I know that any video of dead bodies and bombed out houses will probably be from western Ukrainians attacking Russian speaking people in the Donbas, urged on by the CIA, and not a false flag operation. However, I could not find any reference to Zelensky telling Biden to “…go take his meds” in the linked Fox report and haven’t been able to hear Price telling any reporters, “You are a Russian propagandist.” Am I missing something or are we supposed to believe those things were said because McAdams says so? Seems like the pot is calling the kettle black if this reporter doesn’t have to provide any more “evidence” than the lying State Department.

    • Consortiumnews.com
      February 4, 2022 at 12:11

      “It is the Readers’ Digest version,” the author says. In other words, condensed and paraphrased. The video is included for the verbatim.

      • Carolyn L Zaremba
        February 4, 2022 at 13:08

        Obviously the commenter did not view the video.

  14. Dfnslblty
    February 4, 2022 at 09:34

    Bravo! to you for writing this piece, and to Lee/AP for demanding truth.

Comments are closed.