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The New York Times and Iran: Journalism as state provocation [View All]

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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-19-09 03:34 AM
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The New York Times and Iran: Journalism as state provocation
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In an editorial published Thursday entitled Irans Nonrepublic, the New York Times once again denounced the countrys presidential elections, declaring that government authorities bulldozed the results and that the victory of the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was bogus.

..The newspaper has not even bothered to report, much less analyze, the vote totals, which are readily available by both city and province and refute the claims made that the ballots were rigged to give Ahmadinejad a 60 percent margin across the board.

On the contrary, they show that Mousavi wonin some cases by a two-to-one marginprecisely in the areas that are now the center of the election proteststhe wealthier suburbs of Tehran, Shiraz and elsewhere:

The newspaper has simply ignored commentary from prominent analysts of the region who have suggested that the claims of a rigged election are not supported by the evidence. These include Anthony Cordesman, the chief military strategy and Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies...

The fact that the Times employs its claims of fraud to demand a new electioncalling the Guardian Councils call for recounting ballots a cynical gestureis highly significant. The newspaper is not interested in correcting vote fraud, but rather in bringing pressure to bear within the Iranian state to effect a political coup...

No doubt there were instances of vote-rigging in Iran, but this is the rule, not the exception, in elections around the globe. And not infrequently, particularly in the so-called lesser developed countries, elections end in charges of fraud by the losing party that trigger mass demonstrations and even armed clashes...

Just last April, elections in Moldova ended in violent protests, with the losing party claiming fraud and the winning one saying it was the victim of an attempted coup.

In November of last year in Nicaragua, nationwide local elections in which the opposition claimed irregularities led to confrontations involving thousands of people armed with bats, rocks, machetes and guns.

Last July, charges of election fraud led to mass rioting in the capital of Mongolia.

There is no record of the Times becoming particularly exercised about any of these events.

Particularly instructive is the attitude taken by the newspaper toward the disputed 2006 presidential election in Mexico, when the conservative candidate Felipe Calderon with just 36 percent of the vote and amid substantiated charges of gross electoral fraud claimed victory over his left-nationalist opponent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The Times called for no new election then, and was largely indifferent to the evidence that the election had been rigged. While the massive crowds that took to the streets of Mexico City were comparable to those seen in Tehran, the newspaper showed only disdain for the protesters.

On July 7, just five days after the contested vote totals were announced, the Times haughtily editorialized: Mr. Lopez Obrador has occasionally furthered his political career by inviting supporters to take to the streets... but he should resist inciting mass protests, which would harm Mexicos stability and add to his image as a less-than-committed democrat.

In Mexico, the victim of vote fraud was told to stand down in the interests of stability, while mass protests by his supporters were portrayed as a threat to democracy the exact inverse of the newspapers approach to the Iranian events.

Why the difference? In Mexico, the candidate favored by Washington won, and in Iran, the White House seeks not stability, but destabilization.

Even closer to home, the approach of the newspaper to the claims of a stolen Iranian election stands in stark contrast to the open theft of the 2000 election by the Republican Party, which only two years before had sought to carry out an extra-constitutional coup against an elected president by means of a bogus impeachment an operation that the Times had helped legitimize.

In that election, it was not a matter of the government offering a partial recount of disputed ballots in Florida, but a direct intervention by the US Supreme Court to stop a statewide recount that had been ordered by the Florida Supreme Court to insure that all votes were properly counted.

Did the Times advocate mass protests or demand a new election? Far from it. The newspaper made itself an accomplice...a Times editorial demanded an end to wild talk of vote-stealing and coups dtat precisely what was happening. And after the US Supreme Court selected Bush...the newspaper demanded that the decision be accepted in order to unify the nation. It praised Democratic candidate Al Gore for capitulating, calling it a patriotic duty.

In 1953, their correspondent in Tehran, Kennett Love, was not only a willing conduit for CIA disinformation, but acknowledged participating directly in the coup. He subsequently wrote of giving an Iranian army tank column instructions to attack Mossadeqs house. Afterwards, the Times celebrated the coup and demanded unconditional support for the Shahs regime...

There was, of course, the well-known and criminal role played by the newspaper in promoting and through its senior correspondent Judith Miller helping to fabricate the lies of the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction...

...the newspapers endorsement of the abortive April 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The Times praised the sections of the Venezuelan military that had intervened and handed power to a respected business leader. It argued that, as a result of the armed overthrow of an elected president, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened. It likewise helped Washington cover its tracks, claiming incredibly that the coup was a purely Venezuelan affair.

...In the case of the present crisis in Iran, the Times has employed all of these methods of distortion and deceit on a grand scale, in an effort that was prepared well before the elections were held.

Leading this effort is Executive Editor Bill Keller, who is arguably the most morally compromised editor in the US todayand thats saying something! It was Keller who, at the request of the Bush administration, withheld a story on the National Security Agencys illegal domestic spying operation until after the 2004 election, playing what may have been a decisive role in delivering Bush a second term.

He was recently dispatched to Tehran to write Memos from Iran. The extraordinary character of this assignment is shown in the fact that between taking over as the newspapers senior editor in July 2003 and his trip to Iran, Keller the newspapers man in Moscow during the collapse of the Soviet Union is credited by the Times web site with writing precisely six articles, none of them news stories.

Kellers presence is evidence that the Times is involved in a major operation. He was accompanied to Tehran by a number of others, including the vicious anti-socialist foreign affairs columnist Roger Cohen. A veteran propagandist for US imperialist interests, Cohen has churned out justifications for the US intervention in the Balkans, the war against Iraq, the US policy in Georgia, and now the destabilization effort in Iran.

In the days of Kennett Love, the CIA put journalists on its payroll to secure their collaboration. With the likes of Keller and Cohen, this is no longer necessary. The lavishly-paid senior columnists and editors at the Times dont need to be bribed. Their social interests are naturally in sync with the aims of US imperialist policy...

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