As the always-fraught relationship between Iran and the U.S. intensified over the past week, the American media appeared increasingly sympathetic to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
Last week, President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Despite Soleimani’s long record of terror, which includes the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers and civilians, there was concern that America’s action could lead to an another quagmire in the Middle East.
However, with that concern also came a toxic mix of hysteria and Trump derangement syndrome that veered from serious skepticism into quasi-Iran propaganda.
After Iran attacked a U.S. military base in Iraq Tuesday night, MSNBC host Chris Matthews interviewed NBC News Tehran bureau chief Ali Arouzi, who shared a false report from Iranian state media that claimed the attack had killed 30 Americans. (RELATED: Study: MSNBC, CNN Host 7 Times More Democrats Than Republicans)
“We’ve just getting reports now that a second wave of rocket attacks have been launched from Iran. The IRGC was saying that Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader of this country, was in the control center coordinating these attacks. This is, uh, this bit I’m not sure about,” Arouzi said. “But, Iran state media is claiming that 30 U.S. soldiers have been killed in this attack. Now, this is not confirmed, this is just coming from Iranian media, but we have just stepped over the precipice, Chris.”
In reality, the Pentagon confirmed that there were no fatalities that resulted from Iran’s attack.
The New York Times has also repeatedly pushed pro-Tehran talking points over the past week. The Gray Lady’s coverage of Soleimani’s death referred to him as a “master of Iran’s intrigue,” while praising Soleimani’s “charisma,” and “asceticism.” The Times also claimed that a video tweeted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted of Iraqis rejoicing in the streets over Soleimani’s death was “misleading,” calling it a “very small,” and “minor” demonstration. (RELATED: Iraqis Celebrate In Streets, Praise Trump After Soleimani Death)
“Mr. Pompeo’s tweet, widely shared, is an example of how misleading information spreads in the age of social media when people are quick to accept and promote information that validates their own worldviews,” The Times wrote.
MSNBC anchor Katy Tur acted astonished over the size of the crowds at Soleimani’s funeral in Iran, calling it a “a stunning show of solidarity,” and saying that Trump’s actions united the country.
However, Iranian journalist Maish Alinejad pointed out in a Washington Post Op-ed that the crowds were largely compelled by the regime for propaganda purposes.
“In the city of Ahvaz, where large numbers of people turned out to mourn Soleimani, the government has forced students and officials to attend,” she wrote. “It provided free transport and ordered shops to shut down. According to videos sent to me by people inside the country, the authorities are making little kids write essays praising the fallen commander. First-graders who didn’t know how to write were encouraged to cry for Soleimani.”
Meanwhile, Time Magazine produced an article titled: “How to Talk to Your Kids About the Situation With Iran.”
The article is a step by step guide for parents on how to talk to their children about a potential U.S. conflict with Iran, but omits key details about the history between the two countries.
“In 1979, Iran took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage,” author Jaime Joyce wrote. “They were released after 444 days.”
Joyce then skipped past the next four decades of U.S.-Iranian relations, including the build-up to the 2015 Nuclear deal.
“In 2018, tensions increased again after President Trump said the U.S. would no longer participate in a 2015 deal with Iran,” Joyce wrote.
The worst example of Iranian propaganda making its way to major U.S. media outlets may have come Tuesday night, when CNN hosted Masoumeh Ebtekar, an Iranian government official, who served as the spokesperson for students who held 52 American diplomats hostage during the 1979 crisis. (RELATED: CNN Hits Three-Year Ratings Low Amid Impeachment Drama)
Ebtekar’s appearance on the network came the same night as the Iranian attack on the U.S. military base in Iran, and she was not pressed by CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour.
“The American president made a serious miscalculation, they made a serious mistake by assassinating, by taking this terrorist action, against Commander Soleimani, and I’m sure that they regret what they have done,” Ebtekar told CNN.
“This has created a great new spirit in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and in many countries in the world for all those who support freedom seekers, and for those who support the oppressed. Because it’s very clear that Iran is being targeted, and Soleimani was singled out because of this quest for righteousness against Da’esh,” she continued. (RELATED: Trump: ‘We Took Action Last Night To Stop A War’)
Whether motivated by a disdain for Trump or a desire to secure former President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy, the U.S. media’s partisanship led them to print dubious claims to the benefit of a foreign adversary. It will be fascinating to see how these latest media mishaps affect the American people’s already dwindling trust in the once-revered fourth estate.