The mainstream media unabashedly continues its soft-touch approach with Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On Thursday's "American Morning," CNN foreign correspondent Aneesh Raman gave a report from Amman, Jordan on the release of the 15 British sailors and marines by Iran. He began with the describing the P.R. conducted by Iran and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as one of "precision." Later in his report, Raman then described the P.R. campaign as "sophisticated." These are hardly adjectives CNN employs for American officials.
Though Raman does state that Iran "used the media to its advantage" and that its broadcasts of the British sailors and marines making statements were "staged confessions," it's unsurprising, to say the least, that the CNN correspondent would use such glowing terms for the Iranian regime's propaganda coup. It was only a few months ago that Raman's colleague at CNN, Suzanne Malveaux, asked President Bush for a show of respect for Ahmadinejad.
A full transcript of the report:
(CNN Caption: "Staged Release? Iran Frees Brits After 13 Days")
KIRAN CHETRY: Yes. And as you said, to be a fly on the wall. Especially, what was going on in Iran at the time? What made the regime turn on a dime and decide to release those sailors? And what role did the president of Iran play in that as well?
To find out more, we are going to talk to Aneesh Raman. He has talked with President Ahmadinejad before, and he joins us live from Amman Jordan, today. Hi, Aneesh.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran. Good morning.
This was vintage Ahmadinejad, precision P.R. yesterday, with the Iranian president front and center.
RAMAN (voice over): It was a moment made for TV. One by one, the pardoned British military personnel voicing gratitude to a man often vilified by their government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to thank yourself and the Iranian people.
RAMAN: For his part, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seemed to relish the moment, and a final chapter of a sophisticated P.R. campaign.
MARK FITZPATRICK, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS EXPERT: President Ahmadinejad and the country he represents comes off today as rational, reasonable, someone you can deal with - a smiling man. And I think Iran was rational all along, but many of the statements by President Ahmadinejad were not rational or reasonable at all.
RAMAN: From the very beginning, Iran used the media to its advantage. First, broadcasting this video of the seized British military personnel just days after their capture, showing them in what appeared to be good condition on an Arabic language state-run channel.
DAN PLESCH, DIRECTOR, CENTER OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES & DIPLOMACY: In terms of Arab and domestic opinion, they come out looking quite good because they have taken 15 military personnel from, you know, the former imperial power, tweaked the lion's tail.
FAYE TURNEY, BRITISH SAILOR: They explained to us why we have been arrested.
RAMAN: From Britain, though, came anger over the staged confessions shown on television, first of Faye Turney, then of others. It prompted a warning from British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have had, if you like, two very clear tracks on this. One is to try and settle this by way of peaceful and calm negotiation, to get our people back as quickly as possible. The other is to make it clear that if that's not possible, then we have to take an increasingly tougher position.
RAMAN: The standoff finally ended on Wednesday, with a very public presidential pardon. And from a man known for his provocative statements, a hint of humor.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): So a kind of compulsory trip that you were on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I wouldn't look at it like that, but you could call it that.
RAMAN: Some awkward laughter there.
The message from Iran, from the president, diplomacy works. A not-so-subtle hint, Kiran, as to how Iran thinks the nuclear dispute with the West should be resolved. But from the world there is a sense still that diplomacy doesn't work without international pressure -- Kiran.
CHETRY: All right. Aneesh Raman, thanks so much.