The voices we never hear

Our so-called objective media has been giving a lot of coverage to the framework of the deal agreed upon by the P5+1 nations and Iran. But as Glenn Greenwald points out, the people they get to explain and discuss the topics all share the same anti-Iran bias and seem to take their cues from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and they almost never have people who can provide a counterpoint.

Meanwhile, their “expert media panels” almost always feature the most extremist “pro-Israel,” anti-Iran American pundits such as Jeffrey Goldberg, who played a leading role in spreading false claims about Iraq under the guise of “reporting” (and only became more beloved and credible in DC for it), was dubbed Netanyahu’s “faithful stenographer” by New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, and even joined the Israeli military in his young adulthood. In 2014, Face the Nation interviewed Netanyahu five times and featured his “faithful stenographer,” Goldberg, three times; in 2015, the CBS show just last week interviewed Netanyahu and has already hosted Goldberg four times. ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos actually features supreme neocon propagandist Bill Krsitol as a regular “ABC News Contributor” and has also interviewed Netanyahu. And that’s to say nothing of the “hawkish”, AIPAC-loyal and/or evangelical members of the U.S. Congress who are fanatically devoted to Israel and appear literally almost every week on these programs.

But as these shows “cover” the Iran deal, one thing is glaringly missing: Iranian voices. There has not been a single Iranian official recently interviewed by any of these Sunday morning shows. When I raised this issue on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, a Meet the Press Senior Editor, Shawna Thomas, said the show had “put in a request” with Iran for an interview, while MSNBC’s Chris Hayes also suggested that it can be difficult to secure interviews with Iranian government officials.

That may be, but even if it is difficult to obtain interviews with Iranian government officials, it is extremely easy to interview Iranian experts, scholars, journalists and other authoritative voices from Tehran. Last week, Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez hosted a fascinating hour-long discussion about Iran with Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former nuclear negotiator for Iran who was Iran’s Ambassador to Germany from 1990 to 1997, and now teaches at Princeton. Just this week, CNN International’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed Tehran University Professor Sadegh Zibakalam about Tehran’s views and actions in the Iran deal. Beyond those in Iran, there are Iranian-American groups and Iranian-American experts who actually speak Farsi who don’t see the world the way Jeffrey Goldberg and Lindsey Graham do. Outside the Sunday shows, Iranian officials have been interviewed occasionally by U.S. media figures.

In sum, the only way to exclude Iranian voices is if you choose to exclude them. That’s exactly what Sunday morning television programs have done, and continue to do. [My emphasis-MS]

It’s remarkably telling that the only voices heard on Sunday morning TV shows are those who spout the U.S. Government line about Iran, including officials from the repressive regimes most closely allied with the U.S. Obviously, one can find the arguments of Iranians unpersuasive or even harbor hostility to that nation’s government, but what possible justification is there for the leading Sunday morning news shows in the U.S. to simply suppress those views altogether?

This supports what I repeatedly say. If you really want to understand world events, don’t watch American news programs.


  1. says

    I usually synthesize my view of reality from local English-language blogs, Al Jazeera, local news journals, BBC and US media. Approximately in that order. I’ve given up using the US media (e.g.: NYT) as reasonably reliable since their scandalous spin-doctoring on torture and the Iraq war, and BBC followed suit like a well-trained lap dog. What blows my mind is that people take FOX “news entertainment”* seriously.

    (E.g.: it is to news as “world wide wrestling entertainment” is to “wrestling”)

  2. says

    There are other places where there is a deliberate effort to make sure that the populace doesn’t hear what’s going on: the international trade treaties. In order to prevent the news from reporting on them, the treaties themselves are not published. Even legislative trade commissions are going to be expected to vote on the treaties without seeing them. Why? Because the treaties are actually a wish-list of corporate and Wall Street gimmees? It could be.

  3. mnb0 says

    “If you really want to understand world events, don’t watch American news programs.”
    Don’t read Dutch newspapers either. There was a time several of them took pride in going against the grain, but that’s quite a while ago.
    Maybe you should try CCTV-News. It’s very professional, of course biased towards China, but that automatically means not biased towards American neo-cons.

    Sometimes I watch it on Surinamese television.

  4. psweet says

    Which US Government line? I have a hard time seeing Bill Kristol or Jonah Goldberg giving the Executive branch’s view.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 1: … local English-language blogs, Al Jazeera, local news journals, BBC and US media.

    You can get some worthwhile reportage from a handful of US publications, such as The Progressive or In These Times, though virtually none have the resources to cover international news with depth and regularity.

    Otoh, I finally gave up on BBC a couple of weeks ago, when they (a) switched their format to display better on handhelds, and much worse on any larger screen, and (b) prominently eulogized the late dictator of Singapore as a “statesman” without reference to the violent and puritanical police state he instituted.

  6. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I haven’t watched one of those Sunday morning shows in about 20 years. Unfortunately people like Obama watch them and take them seriously.

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