Looking behind the scenes of recent Iran crisis coverage, we were unpleasantly surprised to see that media integrity – not only impartiality – continues to deteriorate.
As expected, the Almaty 2 talks were covered by the cream of the journalistic crop who regularly report about the crisis, including: WP’s Joby Warrick, AP’s George Jahn, Reuter’s Justyna Pawlak, Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen , CSM’s Scott Peterson , and the BBC’s Lyse Doucet.
Doucet’s wrap-up piece about the talks wasn’t much different than the others: negotiations are stalled, no confidence, lively exchange between US and Iran representatives, etc. No, something else grabbed our attention: right off the bat she quotes – of all the experts who surely were available to such a senior correspondent – Ali Vaez, from the International Crisis Group.
Now, why do we find that so interesting? Well, Vaez is a very public opponent of international pressure being exerted against Iran. As the co-author of the new Carnegie document we have already referred to, he has signed off to claims (which we reject) that the effort to achieve Iran’s nuclear rollback is a lost cause mainly because of its massive cash investment in the WMD program.
Vaez has gone further in the past few days to push his message: in this interesting Foreign Policy article about Bushehr (against the background of the recent earthquake in its vicinity), he makes the incredible claim that international sanctions have somehow exacerbated nuclear safety in Iran. Nonsense.
Which brings us back to Doucet. The other day a London-based think tank held one of those familiar sessions on the Iranian crisis slanted against sanctions. The honored guest came all the way from Washington DC to make his case: it was none other than Trita Parsi, head of the pro-Iran lobby in the US (accompanied by his colleague Reza Marashi). Since his positions are well-known and oft-documented, he was of course preaching to the choir.
Turns out that Doucet was a member of that choir, a fact which she announced herself. Altogether, she sent out three tweets making sure those who missed the event got the message: Sanctions don’t work, Sanctions don’t work, Sanctions don’t work.
How exactly Doucet can report about the sanctions issue in the future, after this embarassing display, is beyond us. We’ll leave it to her bosses at the BBC to consider the matter.
Once upon a time it was assumed that journalists made every effort to keep their beliefs out of their work – to the extent humanly possible – and at least maintain a proper distance between themselves and the subjects of their coverage. Those who found this difficult were supposed to at least maintain their integrity.
That’s what they taught in journalism school, anyway. Guess it was like the lies mom told about eating spinach…