NBC Relays Ahmadinejad’s Call for ‘Mutual Respect,’ Skips Anti-America Chants in Iran

Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News presented a more whitewashed view of prospects for better relations with Iran compared to ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson as NBC’s Brian Williams portrayed Iranians as receptive to Barack Obama’s recent call for talks between the two nations as long as there was "mutual respect." Williams: "President Obama called on Iran to send a signal that it was ready to talk, and it turns out the Iranians were apparently listening. Today President Ahmadinejad, at a rally marking the 30th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, said he would welcome talks with the U.S. as long as they were based on what he called ‘mutual respect.’"

By contrast, on the same night’s World News, correspondent Jim Sciutto relayed the presence of anti-America sentiment in Iran – recounting chants of "Down, down with America," that were shouted during the day’s Islamic Revolution commemoration – and the Iranian public’s support for the country’s nuclear program. And while the ABC correspondent did allude to Ahmadinejad being a less likely prospect for successful negotiation than the more moderate former President Khatami who is running for office again, even Sciutto did not remind viewers of Ahmadinejad’s past anti-Israel rhetoric and the country’s support for terrorism not only against Israel but against American troops in Iraq.

Below are complete transcripts of the stories that ran on the Tuesday, February 10, editions of the NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson:

#From the NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: In his news conference last night, President Obama called on Iran to send a signal that it was ready to talk, and it turns out the Iranians were apparently listening. Today President Ahmadinejad, at a rally marking the 30th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, said he would welcome talks with the U.S. as long as they were based on what he called "mutual respect."

#From World News with Charles Gibson:

CHARLES GIBSON: Overseas next to Iran. At his news conference last night, President Obama said he saw the possibility of diplomatic openings to Iran, but also warned of tougher sanctions if Iran does not halt its development of nuclear weapons. Today, as Iran celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, the government gave its response. Jim Sciutto reports from Tehran.

JIM SCIUTTO: They flooded through the streets of the capital by the hundreds of thousands to mark the 30th anniversary and hear their president offer this olive branch to the U.S. "The new U.S. Administration says it wants to pursue the course of dialogue," he said. "The Iranian nation is ready to hold talks but in a fair atmosphere with mutual respect."

BARACK OBAMA: We will be looking for openings-

SCIUTTO: This came just hours after President Barack Obama's offer to talk with Iranian leaders. The Iranian news media, normally filled with anti-U.S. headlines, today spoke of a new direction with the U.S. Still, many Iranians aren't ready to embrace America.

SCIUTTO: "Down, down with America." That's what they're chanting. So much of these celebrations are about America. They see the revolution as the time Iran broke free from dependence on the U.S., and that's a message that's still very powerful today. Which is why Iranian officials consistently tell us the U. S. must change its policies first. What's important isn't the change in tone, a member of parliament told us, but a change in action. That means assurances the U.S. will not attempt to overthrow the regime and will loosen economic sanctions. What Iran will not give up, many here tell us, is its nuclear program.

PROFESSOR MAJID MARANDI, TEHRAN UNIVERSITY: You know, the whole revolution was about independence. And to be dictated to by the Americans is something completely unacceptable to Iran.

SCIUTTO: Despite Ahmadinejad's new openness, U.S. officials may place greater hope in his more moderate challenger in elections this June. Former President Mohammad Khatami, who sought detente with Washington before leaving office in 2005. At the anniversary march today, a news Web site photographed Khatami as he was mobbed by protesters, chanting, "We do not want an American government." A clear sign there is still some here who prefer confrontation to dialogue. Jim Sciutto, ABC News, Tehran.