Trump Taps O’Brien as National Security Adviser Amid Rising Tensions with Iran

Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

Photo by Evan Vucci/AP


We ran the numbers: There are 1,816 news articles covering this topic. 50% (915) are left leaning, 37% (674) center, 13% (227) right leaning.

On Wednesday, President Trump announced that U.S. hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien will replace John Bolton as national security adviser. The move comes at a pertinent time as tensions with Iran are reaching levels not seen since the hostage crisis in 1979. 

A source close to the White House said the administration chose O’Brien due to his ability to get along with both the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, something that Bolton reportedly struggled with.  

Regardless of the motives of his selection, what matters now is whether or not O’Brien will be an asset in the defusing of tensions with Iran. The most recent episode in the crisis came when two Saudi oil facilities were attacked, actions that have been attributed to the Iranian government, though they deny responsibility. 

While the recent attacks are only the latest in the saga, many have cited that tensions rose after Trump withdrew from the 2015 Nuclear Deal. Mike Pompeo even went as far to say that the ongoing crisis with Iran is a “direct result” of decisions made by President Trump.

With some saying that the current crisis with Iran highlights the shortcomings of the Trump administration, the majority of the news coverage surrounding the event stems from the left. 

Sources from the left such as the Washington Post and the New York Times tended to highlight both the appointment of another top official with a history of “pro-Trump punditry” and the escalation of tensions with Iran by the Trump administration. According to the NYT, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the recent attacks in Saudi Arabia an “act of war” and, on Wednesday, publicly accused Iran of carrying out the attacks. However, despite Pompeo’s remarks, these sources indicate that both the American and Iranian governments are seeking nonviolent resolutions to the conflicts at hand. 

Centrist sources like NPR highlighted two main phenomena. First, an article from NPR discussed that, while positions on the National Security Council are often greatly desirable, many professionals are avoiding the NSC altogether, fearing that joining it would “taint them as political operatives” of the Trump administration. Second, a different article from NPR, detailed the lack of a prompt response from the Trump administration regarding the attacks on Saudi oil facilities last weekend, even despite a growing amount of evidence that suggests Iran was behind the attacks. At this time, Trump is relying on “broadened economic sanctions on Iran for an initial response.”  

Right-leaning sources like the New York Post and Fox News focused on both Trump’s praise of newly-appointed national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Pompeo’s accusation that Iran, and not Houthi rebels in Yemen, were responsible for the attacks in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. According to Fox News, Iran “warned Wednesday that it would ‘immediately’ retaliate against the United States if Tehran is targeted” in response to the attacks in Saudi Arabia.