Iran Fading From Media Attention
(Photo is of the martyred "Neda")
In a passionate Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning ("Silence Has Consequences for Iran"), former Spanish Prime Minister José Aznar who, in case anyone cares, serves on the board of WSJ parent News Corp., says that "It would be a shame .... if our passivity gave carte blanche to a tyrannical regime to finish off the dissidents and persist with its revolutionary plans."
Shaking off passivity requires visibility. America's media establishment almost across the board is providing very little. The Associated Press and the New York Times reports exist, but their distribution is dwarfed by the death of a pop star and a governor's infidelity.
Here are useful comparisons (all searches were done at Google News at about 8:45 a.m. for June 23-27, limited to USA sources):
"Michael Jackson" (entered in quotes) --
"Mark Sanford" (entered in quotes) --
Recapping the score on "all articles" after the main headline: Jackson - 20,375; Sanford - 9,576; Iran - 4,689.
The total results number (Jackson 25,457; Sanford -11,166 ; Iran - 64,235) is probably less reliable than the numbers in the previous paragraph. For example, about 1/3 of the Google News results total for "Iran" appears to be more about how Jackson has crowded out Iran on Twitter and Google that about events in that country --
Getting to the coverage most aren't seeing, here are the opening paragraphs from the Associated Press's coverage found at NPR:
Iranian Cleric Urges Executing Some Protesters
A senior cleric on Friday urged Iran's protest leaders to be punished "without mercy" and said some should face execution — harsh calls that signal a nasty new turn in the regime's crackdown on demonstrators two weeks after its disputed election.
Hard-liners have ordered long sentences and hangings before, and some fear those awaiting trial by a judiciary whose verdicts reflect the will of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could face the most severe punishments the Islamic system can dish out.
"Anyone who takes up arms to fight with the people, they are worthy of execution," Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami, a ranking cleric, said in a nationally broadcast sermon at Tehran University.
Khatami said those who disturbed the peace and destroyed public property were "at war with God" and should be "dealt with without mercy."
His call for merciless retribution for those who stirred up Iran's largest wave of dissent since the 1979 Islamic Revolution came as Mir Hossein Mousavi, the nation's increasingly isolated opposition leader, has been under heavy pressure to give up his fight and slipped even further from view.
Mousavi said he would seek official permission for any future rallies, effectively ending his role in street protests organized by supporters who insist he - not hard-line incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - won the June 12 election.
Here are the opening paragraphs from a June 26 story by Nazila Fathi and Michael Slackman in the New York Times, which to its credit had the story near the top at its front page most of this morning and as of the time of this post:
Iranian Leaders Gaining the Edge Over Protesters
The direct confrontation over Iran’s presidential election was effectively silenced Friday when the main opposition leader said he would seek permits for any future protests, an influential cleric suggested that leaders of the demonstrations could be executed, and the council responsible for validating the election repeated its declaration that there were no major irregularities.
Rather than address the underlying issues that led to the most sustained, unexpected challenge to the leadership since the 1979 revolution, the government pressed its effort to recast the entire conflict not as an internal dispute that brought millions of Iranians into the streets, but as one between Iran and outside agents from Europe, the United States and even Saudi Arabia.
It was a narrative that spoke both to the leadership’s belief that it had beaten back the popular outburst, and to the fragility of the calm.
Even the Times gets a few brickbats for not telling us that "millions" had hit the streets until now. I don't know that AP ever has. The Times headline also leans toward sterile.
Both reports clearly show that the protesters' situation has taken a serious turn for the worse. This seems to be a virtual secret in most of the celebrity-obsessed, scandal-obsessed US establishment media, sadly including Fox News.
As the WSJ's Aznar notes, this plays into the hands of Khamenei's regime. It should be a source of media shame.
As to television, Brent Baker at NewsBusters noted last night that "Friday night's broadcast network evening newscasts which .... spent 95 percent of their air time on Michael Jackson -- all but 1:03 of ABC's approximate 22 minutes was devoted to Jackson, all but 34 seconds of CBS and all but 1:22 of NBC, for 2:59, less than three minutes in total for all news beyond Jackson."
Oh, and someone help me with something -- What is this "cap and trade" thing? Is it some kind of sports collectibles show?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.