Saturday, February 20, 2010

On the Hypocritical and Agenda-Driven Western Media Coverage of the Iranian Presidential Election of 2009

Excerpts from

Chutzpah, Inc.: "The Brave People of Iran" (versus the Disappeared People of Palestine, Honduras, Afghanistan, Etc.)
by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, MRzine, Feb 20, 2010

"It is almost a commonplace, at least for the real -- as opposed to the cruise-missile -- left, that the flow of information, opinion, and moral indignation in the United States adapts well to the demands of state policy. If the state is hostile to Iran, even openly trying to engage in "regime change," and if it is supportive of the state of Israel, no matter what crimes Israel may commit, and if it doesn't like the populist president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, and supports his overthrow and a follow-up "demonstration election" by the local elite, the media and many intellectuals will follow the state agenda, even if they must indulge in mental somersaults. In the case of Iran, the Israeli state and its U.S. supporters are also eager for regime change, so the somersaults on the Iran menace are wilder yet, with large injections of chutzpah.

This chutzpah is in full bloom in a full-page ad in the February 7 New York Times and February 9 International Herald Tribune addressed to Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, Dimitry Medvedev, Gordon Brown, and Angela Merkel: "How Long Can We Stand Idly By and Watch the Scandal in Iran Unfold?"1 The ad was sponsored by "The Elie Wiesel Foundation For Humanity," and signed by 44 Nobel Prize laureates, 42 of them men and a substantial fraction Jewish. The ad attacks Iran's "cruel and oppressive regime" for its "shameless war against its own people" and its "irresponsible and senseless nuclear ambitions [that] threaten the entire world," and calls upon Washington, Paris, Moscow, London, and Berlin, the UN Security Council, and "important NGOs" to impose "harsher sanctions" on Iran, and adopt "concrete measures . . . to protect this new nation of dissidents. . . ." "They must know that we are on their side," the ad implores. "All of us who care must offer our full support and solidarity to the brave people of Iran."

This open letter is a shameless and demagogic call for foreign intervention in Iran, for destabilization and subversion, and, above all, for war -- although three of the signers (including Wiesel) are past recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize2 -- and the text could have been written by the Foreign Office of the state of Israel. Indeed, Wiesel himself is an unabashed protagonist for Israel, having long proclaimed his unwillingness to make a public criticism of that country ("I never attack, never criticize Israel when I am not in Israel"3), so that we can rest assured that his "Foundation for Humanity" will never proclaim its solidarity with any humans living under the Israeli boot. The Wiesel Foundation did not sponsor a full-page ad in the New York Times to protest Israel's shameless and criminal onslaught against the Gaza Palestinians in early 2009, which in just three weeks killed some 340 children, a greater number than the aggregate of protester deaths in post-election Iran.4 Nor will it sponsor an ad that criticizes the irresponsible buildup of nuclear weapons that Israel has accomplished outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that pose a much clearer threat to the world than that posed by the still nuclear-weapon-free Iran, which is under steady threat of attack by Israel and by a U.S. leadership that says "all options" remain on the table...."


"The late June 2009 Chatham House analysis, which cast doubts on Iran's official election result and thus helped to delegitimize the Iranian government in the eyes of the great Western metropolitan centers, was quoted frequently in the Western media, and its authors were sometimes used as expert sources. But the original September 2009 survey of Iranian opinion by PIPA-WPO was virtually ignored by the Western media; and PIPA's subsequent analysis of no fewer than 12 different opinion surveys, released on February 3, remained unreported anywhere in the establishment media through February 17.25 We believe that this differential treatment follows from the now well-established party-line in the West that has demonized Iran's leaders and that processes and manages news-interest and news-flow accordingly. The Western media and intellectuals gravitated to Chatham House's analysis while ignoring PIPA's for the simple reason that Chatham House (like so many other commentators) served up the requisite damning view of the official result -- and PIPA did not. Hence, the newsworthiness of the "stolen election" line, and the lack of attention paid to serious empirical challenges to it."


"By now, the standard claims about Iran's "stolen election" have been repeated so many times by the establishment Western media, as well as by those on the left who took the bait, that almost everybody is hooked on it and unable to wiggle free. 29 Undoubtedly, many foreign activists sincerely believe that they are supporting democracy inside Iran, and large numbers of Iranian dissidents truly are struggling for a more open and decent society and political order. But if Iran's 2009 official election result is valid, and if there is strong majority support among Iran's citizens for the structure and general character of its Islamic Republic,30 then these foreign activists, including the collection of Nobel laureates gathered around Wiesel, and those on the left who like to invoke "solidarity with the anti-Ahmadinejad movement," clearly are not aligned with majority opinion inside Iran. We are not quite sure what to call this toxic mix of opposing the majority will of a foreign country's citizens and doing so in the name of "democracy," while feeding into the regime-change program of the United States and Israel. But strong currents of Orientalism as well as imperialism are clearly running through it.

The huge attention given to Iran's 2009 election and its aftermath,31 and the indignation vented over its "stolen" character, can only be explained by the convergence between this focus and the long-term U.S.-Israeli hostility towards Iran -- their demonization of the leaders of the Islamic Republic, and their steady efforts to destabilize Iran and force it to change in a manner to their liking. It is also of interest that less democratic elections in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the August and October 2009 "demonstration elections" in U.S.-occupied Afghanistan, and even the coup in Honduras in late June and the subsequent terror-laced "demonstration election" there in late November were treated in the West with nowhere near the same level of attention or indignation. The focus on Iran is thus a remarkable case of channeled benevolence, but one that, from the standpoint of genuine peace and democracy-promotion objectives, we believe to be seriously mis-channeled."

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