An Associated Press reporter and State Department spokesman Ned Price engaged in a heated exchange Thursday, with the former accusing Price of entering “Alex Jones” territory.
Price claimed during a State Department briefing that the Russian government was inciting violence and unrest in eastern Ukraine.
In turn, reporter Matt Lee asked Price to provide hard evidence of his claims, rather than simply asserting them as a statement of fact.
“We told you a few weeks ago that we have information indicating that Russia also has already positioned a group of operatives to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine,” claimed Price.
Reporter: “It’s an action that you say they have taken, but you have shown no evidence to confirm that. […] This is like – crisis actors? Really? This is like Alex Jones territory you’re getting into now.”
Must-watch exchange between @APDiploWriter Matt Lee and @StateDeptSpox. pic.twitter.com/RPIPb2zwf5
— The Hill (@thehill) February 3, 2022
“This is like, crisis actors? Really? This is like, Alex Jones territory you’re getting into,” responded Lee, referencing the colorful Texas “Infowars” host prone to making similar claims of “false flag” operations.
Price repeatedly exhorted Lee to “trust” the information he asserted as fact but provided no evidence to back up his claims.
Price argued that he was unable to provide the basis for the State Department’s claims because he had to protect “confidential sources and methods.”
According to Price, the Russian false flag operation in Ukraine is intended to create a pretext for military action. But Lee refused to accept Price’s claims at face value.
“But you don’t have any evidence to back it up other than what you’re saying,” Lee said.
“I’m old enough to remember WMD’s in Iraq,” the journalist said, referring to the federal government’s claims during the lead-up to the Iraq War that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
“You’re coming out and saying this and just expecting us to believe it without a shred of evidence,” he added
Price appeared flummoxed by Lee’s questions, and declined to refer to documents or other evidence of his claim that Russia was plotting to incite further armed conflict in Ukraine. Indeed, at times he seemed perhaps not to understand Lee’s point.
Price would ultimately claim that Lee would prefer to “find solace” in information that the Russian government was releasing on the matter.
The Russian government has made threats of military action targeting Ukraine, partially in response to Ukraine’s inclination towards membership in NATO and the European Union.
The Biden administration announced troop deployments to Eastern Europe in a “show of support to NATO allies,” CNN reported Wednesday.