Some attention has been paid to the fact that the microblogging service Twitter had decided to push off its scheduled maintenance Tuesday morning as the situation in Iran became steadily more embroiled in conflict. As it happened, Twitter was a major source of information coming out of that repressed society as news was happening. Twitter had, though, scheduled a few hours down time just when Iran was at a peak of activity. So, in order to keep the flow of communication to the outside world flowing, Twitter announced it would not turn off its service until Iran calmed down.
This is pretty interesting news, that a mere social networking site was so deeply involved in momentous news of the day and that it became so relied upon by people hungry for news and interested in discussing a major democratic movement is definitely a new thing. It is especially interesting because the U.S. media so badly fell down on its job of reporting activities in Iran making Twitter a vital tool for communication. But what was even more interesting was that Obama's State Department tried to claim credit for Twitter's decision to stay in operation during the day. Worse, the Old Media seemed to swallow the State Department's claims whole.
In the midst of his June 16 Swampland blog screed leveled against the "unhinged" Sen. John McCain for his criticism of President Obama's low-key response to the Iranian election, Time magazine's Joe Klein [shown in file photo at right] also worked in a comparison of hardliner Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's support base with former U.S. President George W. Bush's core supporters:
It is not even clear that Ahmadinejad--who has significant backing from the sort of people who support Republicans here (the elderly, the religious extremists) plus a real following among working-class Iranians--would have lost this election, if the votes had been counted fairly. (I tend to believe that they weren't counted at all, but that's just my opinion.)
Twelve days earlier, Klein more subtly made the Ahmadinejad/Bush connection in a comparison that favorably compared Iranian presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi to Bush's 2004 rival Sen. John Kerry (emphasis mine):
That was both the headline and the theme of an astounding story written for Politico by the former foreign policy husband and wife team of Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett. Their shtick while at the Bush White House was that we needed to "engage" Iran and left their jobs "with a growing sense of alarm" that we were headed towards war with that Islamic regime which, of course, never happened. And now they are continuing to run cover for the mullahs with their Politico story about how the Iranian presidential election was fair and square:
Without any evidence, many U.S. politicians and “Iran experts” have dismissed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection Friday, with 62.6 percent of the vote, as fraud.
They ignore the fact that Ahmadinejad’s 62.6 percent of the vote in this year’s election is essentially the same as the 61.69 percent he received in the final count of the 2005 presidential election, when he trounced former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The shock of the “Iran experts” over Friday’s results is entirely self-generated, based on their preferred assumptions and wishful thinking.
"North Korea, Syria - I mean these are places when they always have elections, there's always a couple of people who don't vote for the right guy," Cramer said. "But I think the price of oil is going to tell you exactly how everything is going to play out in Iran, which is it's much ado about nothing."
For the last several months, New York Times reporter turned international columnist Roger Cohen has filed naïve apologist columns about Iran, often attacking Israel in the process. Previously mocked for this embarrassing display of Obama-mania in March 2008, Cohen attracted negative attention on the foreign affairs front earlier this year by telling readers how good things really were for Jews in Iran.
After that line of argument failed to convince, he then accused Israel of lying about the Iranian threat while constantly insisting that Iran was actually a functioning and reformist democracy. Cohen minimized the danger posed by Iran's demonized leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, excusing his anti-Israel rantings. And of course, Cohen strongly favored Obama's brand of diplomacy with Iran as opposed to Bush's hostility.
Cohen's Thursday column from Tehran, "Iran Awakens Yet Again," which ran in the Times international edition the day before the vote, featured some poorly timed fawning over Iran's "unpredictable" democracy.
If you are following the amazing events currently unfolding in Iran in the wake of their turbulent election, then YouTube will give you a much better sense of what is happening than the mainstream media. Yesterday, while the dramatic protests were unfolding, CNN held an extended forum on healthcare. The other cable news channels weren't much more enlightening in their coverage of events from Iran.
Where does a web surfer go to find out about the turbulence taking place there? For me, and a lot of other people, the natural gathering place for a video view from Iran is YouTube where many Iranian bloggers have been uploading their highly interesting videos some which you can see, along with a sampling of the accompanying commentary, below the fold. So turn away from those cable news networks which are only giving relatively shallow coverage of the turbulence in Iran and welcome to the Brave New World of Web video reporting from bloggers on the scene of the action.
On Tuesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann suggested that President Obama’s speech in Cairo may have been responsible for the defeat of Hezbollah in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections which occurred a few days after the speech. But as Olbermann discussed the possibility that Obama had a hand in the results, he neglected to inform viewers that the apparent 71 out of 128 seats won by pro-Western candidates in 2009 is nearly identical to the 72 won in the last such round of elections in 2005.
During the show’s opening teaser, Olbermann brought up Obama’s speech: "The Cairo effect: Did this already pay off practically?"
After a clip of Obama’s speech, the MSNBC host continued: "Three days later, voters in Lebanon elected an American-backed coalition instead of a Hezbollah-backed coalition."
Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine reading a New York Times column not written by a conservative that claimed "the forces for decency, democracy and pluralism" in the Middle East "have a little wind at their backs" due to the policies of former President George W. Bush?
Neither did I, but much to my surprise, such was said by Thomas Friedman in his most recent piece entitled "Winds of Change?"
Readers are strongly advised to fasten their seatbelts tightly across their waists, for you are about to enter an alternate media reality:
It must have been a while since David Gergen dropped his resume in the hopper for Team Obama, so it’s no small surprise that it was about for him to turn on the rhetorical firehose and gush some love the White House’s way.
On the June 4 “Anderson Cooper 360,” Gergen was asked by the host to give his initial reaction to President Obama’s speech in Cairo. Gergen immediately mugged for the camera:
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, there was no way he could quite reach the summit with this speech. He couldn't please everyone. We're hearing a lot of nitpicking on aspects of the speech.
But, overall, it was the most powerful and the most persuasive speech any American president has ever made to the Muslim populations around the world, perhaps back of his background.
Cooper, to his credit, was immediately incredulous:
(Oops! "Ugly reality" already seems to have contradicted the naive premise of this Newsweek editor. See update below.)
I'm not sure what's scarier: the fact that Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria wants us to believe that Iran seeks nuclear power only for peaceful purposes or that President Obama might be seriously buying into this guy's delusions by reading his book, The Post-American World. Zakaria wants us to put away our fears of a nuclear Iran by making the case in his Newsweek article that that nation has no interest in weaponizing nukes:
Everything you know about Iran is wrong, or at least more complicated than you think. Take the bomb. The regime wants to be a nuclear power but could well be happy with a peaceful civilian program (which could make the challenge it poses more complex). What's the evidence? Well, over the last five years, senior Iranian officials at every level have repeatedly asserted that they do not intend to build nuclear weapons. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has quoted the regime's founding father, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who asserted that such weapons were "un-Islamic." The country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa in 2004 describing the use of nuclear weapons as immoral. In a subsequent sermon, he declared that "developing, producing or stockpiling nuclear weapons is forbidden under Islam." Last year Khamenei reiterated all these points after meeting with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. Now, of course, they could all be lying. But it seems odd for a regime that derives its legitimacy from its fidelity to Islam to declare constantly that these weapons are un-Islamic if it intends to develop them. It would be far shrewder to stop reminding people of Khomeini's statements and stop issuing new fatwas against nukes.
In honor of President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith decided to take an uncritical look at the President’s performance with liberal commentators Tavis Smiley of PBS and Fareed Zakaria of CNN and Newsweek. Smith asked Zakaria: "Using your book as a template, 'The Post-American World,' in which America is seen not necessarily as the center of this universe anymore, how is this President working against the template of your book?"
Zakaria explained: "If you look at that template, Obama has actually seemed to really understand it, made overtures to the world...even overtures to Iran, to Syria, engaging in the Middle East peace process, even Venezuela. This is, I think, been a great overture. The first movement of the symphony is yet to come." Smith added: "The first 100 days, perhaps, is the overture." Zakaria continued: "But I think as an overture goes, you know, no -- I don't think any president has had as much success as Obama has...this guy gets this new world, this post-American world that I talk about, and he's acting in a way that will secure America's interests."
Nothing in American politics is quite so intriguing as the Central Intelligence Agency. There is a certain mystique surrounding this agency, almost wholly because it has proven to be quite good at keeping secrets.
Thus, whenever the actions of the CIA are widely reported in the media, the story typically becomes a fixation for many news outlets - and any former agent who is able to shed light on these actions are usually well-received. But even here, the media has limits.
But while Scheuer is an equal-opportunity critic of missteps by Democratic and Republican administrations, the broadcast news media seem to draw the line at allowing him on air to find fault with President Obama.
Scheuer wrote a column in Sunday’s Washington Post, daring to claim that the president’s actions in publishing the so-called CIA torture memos were morally reprehensible:
While President Obama was extoling the virtues of wind power in an Earth Day speech, his Justice Department lawyers were attempting to scuttle a lawsuit filed in federal court against Iran by former U.S. embassy hostages. The lawsuit alleges that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of the hostage-takers who interrogated the captives.
Two days after the story broke on the Associated Press wire, it appears the mainstream media have virtually buried the story, with no televised coverage save for a brief mention on CNN and one story in the Boston Globe.
A search for "'lawsuit' and 'Iran'" in Nexis from April 22 to 24 found no mentions of the story on MSNBC nor ABC, CBS and NBC broadcast network news programs. Likewise the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post were devoid of stories. A search of "major newspapers" in Nexis did yield one hit, a 380-word AP wire story by Nedra Pickler printed on page A6 of the April 23 Boston Globe.
In that April 23 story, Pickler noted that (emphasis mine):
As readers here know from Noel Sheppard's report last night, at yesterday's annual GE shareholder meeting, CEO Jeffrey Immelt was challenged on the subject of media bias at GE-owned NBC, CNBC and MSNBC.
The story is far from over.
I encourage those interested in it to watch the O'Reilly Factor tonight for additional in-depth reporting, including the airing at least part of an audio recording of the Q&A session inside the stockholders' meeting made by Tom Borelli and shared with Fox News. (As of this writing, Fox has also made a tiny portion of the tape, the part featuring Fox reporter Jesse Watters asking about about Keith Olbermann's handling of the recent infamous Janeane Garofalo interview, and the shareholders booing when GE cut off Jesse Watters' mike, available on its website now here, and it has been linked to by Drudge.)
Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter hit all the expected pro-Obama marks in an interview on Monday’s night’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. He disparaged George Bush’s "good versus evil, us versus them" foreign policy, marred by "Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the war in Iraq, it’s understandable why the Muslim would would get this message – that the United States did not wish them well."
As for his own personal foreign policy, Alter advocated a much softer tone with our enemies. Ultimatums don’t work, so "I personally favor much closer relations between the United States and Iran because, as Obama said during the campaign, you have to talk to your enemies." Here's how it unfolded:
OLBERMANN: It seemed so radical to hear an American president say United States is not and can’t be at a war with Islam. Is that a clarification that needed to be made? And is there any way to gauge how much it needed to be made?
ALTER: It absolutely had to be made. This was a huge and extremely important do-over for the United States in the Muslim world. You know, under Bill Clinton, we had pretty good relations in that part of the world.
On Thursday’s Countdown show, while recounting the story of shoddy electrical work done by Halliburton subsidiary KBR which has resulted in several American troops being electrocuted while taking showers in Iraq, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann referred to the dangerous showers as "Dick Cheney electrocution showers," and stated as fact his absurd opinion that the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq partly to provide "no bid sweetheart contracts" to Halliburton.
As he ended his rant during the show’s regular "Bushed!" segment, Olbermann repeatedly referred to KBR as "Dick Cheney’s old pals" as he complained that the Defense Contract Management Agency plans to get KBR to repair the electrical problems. Olbermann:
Dick Cheney`s old pals get billions of taxpayer dollars from a war Dick Cheney helped foment. Then Dick Cheney`s old pals do a criminally negligent job and they kill some of the soldiers who are not killed in Dick Cheney`s phony war. Now, to prevent Dick Cheney`s old pals from killing even more Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has assigned the urgent, essential, life or death repair work to Dick Cheney`s old pals.
There seems to be a wall of silence surrounding the sudden withdrawal of H. Rodgin Cohen (pictured at right) from consideration for the Number 2 job at the Treasury Department.
The party line, according to ABC's This Week host and former Clinton administration adviser George Stephanopoulos, is that "an issue arose in the final stages of the vetting process." David Cho at the Washington Post reports that "two sources familiar with the matter" confirmed this, but that they "declined to identify the reason."
Perhaps the press is not really interested in finding out that reason, or reasons. Or worse, they've got a pretty good idea, and they'd rather not dig; because if they don't dig, they won't have to tell us. Stephanopoulos appears to be giving away that he knows more than he's willing to reveal when he writes that "Cohen has been a counsel to just about every major player on Wall Street, which perhaps complicated his nomination."
"Perhaps"? A review of some of Cohen's known history makes it clear that he carries quite a bit of potentially heavy baggage.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Kimberly Dozier interviewed former C.I.A. agent Robert Baer, who argued that Iran: "...is empire by proxy. You get people -- it's like Communism. You get people to go along with you and your vision of the world. And they're saying, you know, ‘we can finally drive the United States out of the Middle East.’" Dozier added: "Unless, Baer says, we give President Ahmadinejad and his religious backers what they want."
Baer explained what Iran wants: "First of all, they want to be recognized as a major power in the Gulf...By the United States, by the Europeans. They want to be deferred to on big issues like Iraq and Afghanistan, issues that directly affect them." Dozier asked: "But in a sense, wouldn't the U.S., wouldn't Europe be rewarding them for bad behavior?" Baer replied: "Well, we would be. But does it matter? We have to be pragmatic about this."
Dozier went on to explain: "If we don't negotiate, Baer worries, the United States may find itself in yet another war we can't afford to fight." Baer exclaimed: "And do we really want to take down the most powerful country in the Middle East? I mean, we've just taken down Iraq, the second most powerful country, and it hasn't done a bit of good for anybody in the region." Dozier interjected: "It's a mess." Baer agreed: "It's a mess and it's going to remain a mess. Let's talk them back into the game of nations."
In Friday’s Washington Post, columnist Charles Krauthammer lamented how good news in Iraq seems to be no news in Washington, married as the liberal establishment is to a narrative that Iraq was a "fiasco" (courtesy of WaPo’s own Thomas Ricks). The elections weren’t totally ignored, but the anti-Bush narrative is uninterrupted. Krauthammer elaborated on the good news:
A fabulous bazaar of 14,400 candidates representing 400 parties participated, yielding results highly favorable to both Iraq and the United States.
Iraq moved away from religious sectarianism toward more secular nationalism. "All the parties that had the words 'Islamic' or 'Arab' in their names lost," noted Middle East expert Amir Taheri. "By contrast, all those that had the words 'Iraq' or 'Iraqi' gained."
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.
During a news brief on Monday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reported on the 30th Anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution: "At a musical gala, a choir sang revolutionary songs. Beneath a full-scale replica of the plane that brought Ayatollah Khomeini back to Iran from exile in 1979. On a video screen, 30-year-old scenes of jubilant crowds." Palmer continued to describe the celebration: "Nearby in the Ayatollah's tomb, the faithful shout ‘Death to America.’ But to millions, this is just ritual now. They would like to see improved relations with the United States." Maybe not wishing America’s death would be a good start.
Palmer followed up by explaining: "Iran's leaders are still committed to the revolutionary ideals." Even Barack Obama has not been able to weaken Iranian principles: "And so far there's little sign they're in a hurry to accept the direct negotiations proposed by Obama's administration."
President Barack Obama's olive branch to Iran was seriously snubbed in the past couple of days as key figures within the Islamic nation made it clear that they have no interest in talking with America unless we change our policies.
Even worse, an Iranian government spokesman said Obama's statement on Al Arabiya Wednesday concerning a willingness to talk to Iran "means Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed."
Might this alter the press's repeated view the previous eight years that tensions in the Middle East were largely caused by President Bush's refusal to talk to Iran without preconditions concerning that nation's nuclear buildup, and that all would be well in the world if we would just agree to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on any terms?
Such analysis seems critical given Saturday's report from Xinhua:
Short of going full Ninja hero and snatching the shoes in mid-air, it's hard to see how Pres. Bush could have been any cooler in his handling of the Hush Puppy Hurler. I figure W's feeling pretty good about things this morning. But that didn't stop ABC and NBC from declaring the incident "embarrassing" for President Bush.
For good measure, on Today, Doris Kearns Goodwin discounted Bush's blithe reaction, saying he wouldn't have been that cool a couple years ago, strangely intepreting his nonchalance as evidence of how anxious he is to leave office. And not to leave CBS out of the mix, on the Early Show Richard Roth described the president as being "nonplussed" in reaction to the incident, when he was in fact just the opposite.
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed Barack Obama’s foreign policy goals with foreign correspondent Lara Logan and asked about Logan’s July interview with the president-elect: "...he said many times during the campaign, that Afghanistan, and not Iraq, needs to be our central focus in this war on terrorism. And this morning in the Washington Post we're seeing that's he's already tackling strategies in Afghanistan. What do you think? How important will this be for him?" Logan replied: "Well, there's no question that Afghanistan is a very pressing and immediate problem because the gains the U.S. made during the invasion seven years ago have been slipping away more...You really cannot separate Afghanistan and Pakistan. And Obama understands that, that's one of key things that he said to me."
Later, Rodriguez asked about Obama’s policy towards Iran: "...what I thought was interesting in this article in the Washington Post, is that President-elect Obama is reportedly considering talks with Iran as part of this new Afghanistan strategy. Do you think the two will go hand in hand?" Logan followed Obama talking points: "Well, he said from the beginning he has no problem sitting down with Iran if it is in the United States’ best interest, because he believes that dialogue is important...it's absolutely critical that the United States reaches some kind of understanding. They've been losing ground to Iran inside Iraq since the invasion of Iraq and that is really a very, very serious problem that has not been dealt with to date."
Who would you think is more concerned with the best interest of the United States? Americans? Or those in other countries?
If you chose the latter, then you are likely a liberal. You are also, apparently, like many other countries in the world. Countries that will go from respecting the authority of this nation, to snickering behind our backs at the possibility of electing a President who thinks the world is his constituency, and not his native country.
The media is unconsciously making this obvious, by revealing what may be a major reason we should be concerned about the possibility of the phrase ‘President Barack Obama.’
The world is salivating at the prospect of appeasement, and that will be Obama’s number one foreign policy platform.
If the leader of one of America's major NATO allies had serious concerns with John McCain's stated position on Iran, would the Obama-loving press report it?
Probably every hour on the hour until the day after Election Day, right?
Well, according to Israel's Ha'aretz, France's Nicolas Sarkozy views Barack Obama's political stance toward Iran "utterly immature" and made up of "formulations empty of all content."
UPDATE AT END OF POST: French Embassy refutes Ha'aretz article.
Don't be surprised if you hadn't heard anything about this, for a Google News search identified not one major American press outlet covering what Ha'aretz reported over eight hours ago (emphasis added, photo courtesy NY Daily News):
Whoopi Goldberg’s solution to winning the War on Terror: talk to "Shum Jum Yum Yum," whoever that is. On the October 24 edition of "The View," the aforementioned co-host defended Barack Obama’s call for unconditional talks with rogue nations like Iran. Whoopi concluded that dictators such as "Ahmadinejacket" and "Shum Jum Yum Yum" (presumably she meant Kim Jong Il?) have become "less rational" because the Bush administration has allegedly not talked to these regimes.
Besides airing her opinion without getting key names correct, Whoopi should know that talking unconditionally to Adolf Hitler did not make him any less radical. This should come as no surprise to a woman, who, on more than one occasion, demonstrated her ignorance of basic history.
On Tuesday, an Associated Press article featured on MSNBC.com and briefly as a top headline on the popular internet homepage MSN.com was titled: "McCain linked to group in Iran-Contra case." The subtitle read: "Organization had ties to former Nazi collaborators, right-wing death squads." The article attacked a group founded by retired U.S. General John Singlaub: "The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe."
The AP appears to be getting its story tips from the Obama campaign, as Boston Globe deputy national political editor, Foon Rhee, reported: "The Obama camp today is sending around reports on Singlaub, founder of the US Council for World Freedom, which was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal during the mid-1980s and was criticized for supposed links to Nazi collaborators and right-wing death squads in Central America." The AP article justified reporting on the tenuous McCain connection by explaining: "McCain's ties are facing renewed scrutiny after his campaign criticized Barack Obama for his link to a former radical who engaged in violent acts 40 years ago."
The wording may be a tad nuanced, the referenced two-bit dictator from a different country, but the idea behind the following jokes involving Barack Obama and the race card seems too similar for mere happenstance.
Judge for yourself.
On September 19, conservative blogger Jim Treacher wrote the following fictious exchange between "President" Obama and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that seems eerily similar to the one presented on the most recent installment of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" (video embedded right, relevant section at 3:30):
When the latest installment of Saturday Night Live parodied Friday’s presidential debate, the NBC comedy program gave attention to Barack Obama’s connections to convicted criminal Tony Rezko, corrupt Chicago politics, and Obama’s recent attempts at "playing the race card," which notably are all matters that the mainstream news media have given little attention to. While the show also took a number of shots at John McCain, several times having him propose a bizarre gimmick like challenging Obama to a pie-eating contest for example, the Illinois Senator also received several noteworthy jabs. One line involved McCain’s character, played by Darrell Hammond, referring to Obama, played by Fred Armisen, as making an earmark request titled "Tony Rezko Hush Money." Obama’s character also bragged that his tax cut plan would benefit Chicago politicians and city employees "because my plan would not tax income from bribes, kickbacks, shakedowns, embezzlement of government funds, or extortion."
The Obama character later promised that he would "play the race card" against dictators like North Korean President Kim Jong Il if necessary to guilt-trip them into dismantling their nuclear programs, as he would accuse Kim of refusing to cooperate with him because "I’m not like the other guys on the $5 and $10 bills."