Paul L. Williams, Ph.D.
What’s taking place in Iran?
For an answer, don’t turn to CNN or Fox News and don’t listen to White House officials.
Millions have taken to the streets to protest the June 12 rigged election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The University of Tehran has been ransacked.
Several protestors have been killed and thousands have been injured.
It is the greatest popular uprising that the 21st Century has witnessed.
And yet, to find fair and balanced coverage of the momentous event, one had to turn to foreign news outlets.
Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, opted to whitewash the turmoil in her native country, prompting thousands on Twitter to voice their outrage.
“Why aren’t you covering this with everything you’ve got?” Steve LaBate, an Atlanta resident, asked CNN on Twitter.
While LaBate and others were venting their frustration, CNN was showing a repeat of Larry King’s interview with the stars of the “American Chopper” show.
Part of the reason for the CNN and Fox black-out is explained by the fact that a good chunk of AOL Time Warner (parent company of CNN) and New Corp (parent company of Fox News) is owned by Prince Alwaleed Ibn Talal the Saudi billionaire. For this reason, the Saudis serve as a filter for events in the Middle East that are viewed by American and Canadian audiences.
More difficult to explain is the suppressed reaction from White House officials. While blood was being spilled in the streets of Tehran, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “We are monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Iran but we, like the rest of the world, are waiting and watching to see what the Iranian people decide.”
Understatement, to say the least.
Equally bizarre is the statement from White House spokesman Robert Gibbs that the administration remains “impressed by the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians.”
Not a word about the turmoil in the streets or the ransacking of the university.
Compounding the weirdness are the comments, which were made by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on NBC’s “Meet the Press: “I have doubts, but withhold comment.”
Doublespeak has never been stated more clearly.
Meanwhile, the Iranian authorities are continuing a crackdown on journalists and information that began after the announcement of the disputed presidential election results. Journalists are still being arrested and more censorship measures have been adopted as President Ahmadinejad’s allies try to suppress media coverage of fraud allegations.
“Independent sources of news and information find it very hard to make their voice heard now in Iran because of the censorship,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities are tightening their grip on all news media and means of communication that could be used to dispute Ahmadinejad reelection ‘victory’. They are doing everything possible to limit coverage of the consequences of the election fraud.”
But let’s not romanticize Ahmadinejad’s opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi as a champion of religious tolerance and western civilization. While Mousavi calls for the creation of non-government TV networks and the elimination of the country’s Moral Police, he calls the United States “the Great Satan,” who must be encountered with “iron fists”; calls for the assassination of novelist Salmon Rushdie; and labels Israel “a cancerous tumor that must be removed.” But, in recent appearances, Mousavi has condemned the killing of Jews in the Holocaust - - a most liberal position for an Islamist.
For more information, stay tuned to al-Jazeera.