While anti-corruption protests against the Iranian regime intensify across the nation, the U.S. media’s blackout of the potentially historic event has been nothing short of breathtaking.
It is illustrative of journalistic priorities in a media environment taut with partisan tension, when every editorial choice is frustrated by the knowledge that it may wind up as a defense of political adversaries or an indictment of traditional allies.
A historic moment, however, demands that reporters and editors put aside their partisan differences and let the moral gravity of an event draw into clear focus where the political fault lines actually lie. It is neither a Republican nor a Democratic issue when millions of people yearning to breathe free strike the iron that can emancipate them from their shackles.
It is inconsequential to the broader plight of humanity whether a despised president or a beloved one has pronounced an official position that has ossified into a party line.
It is time for journalists to rise above the shopworn fray and take up the mantle of another people’s freedom. There are lives on the line; not merely the corporeal heartbeats that drive these people ever on under brutally oppressive conditions, but the lives that may have been, should they have been afforded the basic human dignity to pursue their own dreams.
While standard bearers of the U.S. media like the Washington Post arrogantly proclaim “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” an affront against the faux-dictatorship of President Trump that smacks even more risible in relief to the Iranian mullahs, here is the front page as of this early afternoon.
The Iranian protests, which have killed at least three and have led to hundreds of protesters jailed in the past 48 hours, were not simply invisible in comparison to other less historic news, but were conflated with “pro-government” protests on CNN.
“Crowds of pro-government supporters demonstrated Saturday in Iran after two days of rare anti-government protests which spread to a number of cities,” CNN reported.
“Nearly 2,000 people gathered peacefully in the capital, Tehran, in support of the government’s policies, an eyewitness there said. State-run Iranian broadcasters showed demonstrators waving the Iranian flag at the pro-government rally, which had been scheduled before the anti-government protests broke out. Meanwhile, coverage of the anti-government protests was very limited on state-run media, which referenced them only in passing,” it continued.
The critique of the news outlet’s false equivalency between protests demanding freedom and justice and staged counter-protests from the corrupt dictatorial Iranian regime was pointed.
“Largest anti-govt protests since 2009 and they don’t even get discussed till paragraph 4,” one commenter tweeted. “Do you think we don’t know how news stories are written? Do you think we don’t know the ‘important’ stuff goes first? Your network is an embarrassment and so are you.”
The notion that such protests in Iran are “rare” was propagated by both CNN and Reuters. It projects the false notion that Iran is a sea of domestic tranquility and the protesters are relative malcontents. This belies the fact that Iranian activists have been protesting the regime since the 1979 revolution, including the 2009 uprising that ended in bloody suppression.
Meanwhile, this is the reality of the protests on the streets that is not being shown on CNN and other news outlets.
Khamenei is the focus of #iranprotests ire. His posters are being toppled all over Iran
— Alireza Nader علیرضا نادر (@AlirezaNader) December 30, 2017
VIDEO: Protesters in Tehran tear down a poster of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – @RadioFarda_ pic.twitter.com/ZaFHO0RHEf
— Conflict News (@Conflicts) December 30, 2017
PHOTO: Protesters on the streets in Iran's capital, Tehran – @Cropperboyce pic.twitter.com/SCELfOrzHo
— Conflict News (@Conflicts) December 30, 2017
#Zanjan, #IranProtests: pic.twitter.com/MQmq9Mn1i1
— Hadi Nili (@HadiNili) December 30, 2017
While former President Obama famously was silent for ten days following the crushed 2009 Green Movement, and remains quiet to this day about expressing support for pro-democratic forces in Iran, current President Trump vocally supported the activists.
It is this political fault line that may explain the U.S. media’s reticence to give anything but restrained, obligatory coverage of the protests.
“Just look at what Iran Deal did to Dems,” said Omri Ceren. “They’ve become so invested in Iran regime’s survival – because regime is guarantor of the deal – can’t even offer full-throated support to protesters demanding freedom and facing down govt thugs. Make up excuses about not getting involved.”
Ceren also pointed out that the New York Times recently reported that Trump supporters in Iran were pro-government, a claim that appears exceedingly dubious, especially in hindsight.
“Massive anti-govt protests in Iran broke out exactly a month after this NYT A1 article was published saying Trump’s foreign policy had united Iranians as pro-govt,” he wrote on Twitter.
@brianstelter hate Iranians who seek freedom? Is it because they are opposing Obama’s mullah pals?” conservative pundit Kurt Schlichter put it more pointedly.
“It is amazing to watch CNN deliberately burn its credibility and ratings to the ground, all to protect James Clapper and Ben Rhodes,” The Federalist’s Sean Davis remarked.
As the Iranians take to the streets in the biggest protest since the suppressed 2009 Green Movement, it’s remarkable how little the U.S. media seem to care. Even as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps., at the behest of its leader Ali Khameini, murders peaceful protesters in the streets and jails political dissidents, today’s mainstream journalist shrugs.
The news media outlets that care enough to editorialize on the protests merely twist them to represent a revolt against the “high cost of living”; obviously, there is an economic component that provides pressure on the situation, such as the dropping price of oil in conjunction with escalating U.S. production.
But to chalk things up as simple discontent over subpar government welfare in a tough economic environment is simplistic and dangerously misleading. It is also suspiciously conducive to the socialist one-size-fits-all solution of government welfare as the elixir for all of society’s ills.
Conveniently lost in the smokescreen narrative is that millions of Iranians are dying, some of them literally, to regain their freedom after a brutal Islamist regime took over their nation in 1979. Once again, a historic moment to take power back for the people has arrived; once again, the U.S. media are letting them down.
What else can Americans expect from a press corps. that refuses to condemn human rights violators like Cuba and Venezuela if it’s found to be politically inconvenient? As for the silence of its voice as wanton violence and injustice is perpetrated against innocent people, one can only assume its reserved power for change stands idly by in quiet solidarity with the oppressors.
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