PunditFact fact-checks MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell's claim that U.S. and Iran were "more or less" allies in 2002

6:17 PM, Feb 6, 2014   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- State of the Union speeches by presidents always get a lot of attention from network news shows. But a MSNBC anchor got some attention before President Barack Obama's recent speech because of her statement on the United States relationship with Iran. PunditFact to put her statement to the truth-o-meter.

When talking about President Obama's upcoming State of the Union address, Andrea Mitchell said these speeches rarely had any surprises. She said however the exception was in 2002 when President George W. Bush named Iran, North Korea and Iraq as the "axis of evil".

Here's what she said:

"Up until that moment, Iran was cooperating with the United States on the border of Afghanistan. Post 9/11, Iran was more or less an American ally."

The term "ally" peeked the interest of fact-checkers at PunditFact. Katie Sanders with PunditFact says fact-checkers looked at the relationship between Iran and the U.S. at that time.

"There really was unprecedented cooperation between the two countries on the issue of Afghanistan. Iran didn't want the Taliban there and they also helped the U.S. deal with al-Qaida rising, they wanted to form, like the U.S. did, a strong government in Afghanistan."

But using the term "ally" drew a lot of criticism from conservatives.

"That infuriated a lot of people who thought it was, I think somebody said it was delusional. But she did have some point that there was cooperation between the two countries that usually don't see, immediately after 9/11," says Sanders.

Because Mitchell used the phrase "more or less" and it was a time that the U.S. and Iran were seeking similar goals in Iraq, PunditFact rates her claim: HALF TRUE.

Mitchell also said by putting Iran in the "axis of evil," the Bush administration missed the opportunity to continue the cooperation. But, PunditFact doesn't check hypothetical situations. You can read the details of this fact-check here.

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