According to an AFP release, The Ploughshares Fund – a group the White House recently identified as a key surrogate in selling the Iran nuclear deal gave National Public Radio USD 100,000 last year to help it report on the pact and related issues, according to the group’s annual report. It also funded reporters and partnerships with other newsoutlets.
The Ploughshares Fund’s mission is to “build a safe, secure world by developing and investing in initiatives to reduce and ultimately eliminate the world’s nuclear stockpiles,” one that dovetails with President Barack Obama’s arms control efforts.
But its behind-the-scenes role advocating for the Iran agreement got more attention this month after a candid profile of Ben Rhodes, one of the president’s top foreign policy aides.
In The New York Times Magazine article, Rhodes explained how the administration worked with non-governmental organizations, proliferation experts and even friendly reporters to build support for the seven-nation accord that curtailed Iran’s nuclear activity and softened international financial penalties on Tehran.
“We created an echo chamber,” said Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, adding that “outside groups like Ploughshares” helped carry out the administration’s message effectively.
The magazine piece revived Republican criticism of the Iran agreement as they suggested it was evidence of a White House spin machine misleading the American people. The administration accused opponents of trying to re-litigate the deal after failing to defeat it in congressional votes last year.
Outside groups of all stripes are increasingly giving money to news organizations for special projects or general news coverage.
Most news organizations, including The Associated Press, have strict rules governing whom they can accept money from and how to protect journalistic independence.
Ploughshares’ backing is more unusual, given its prominent role in the rancorous, partisan debate over the Iran deal.
The Ploughshares grant to NPR supported “national security reporting that emphasizes the themes of US nuclear weapons policy and budgets, Iran’s nuclear program, international nuclear security topics and US policy toward nuclear security,” according to Ploughshares’ 2015 annual report, recently published online.