Amazing how media-consumers’ perception of the Iranian crisis can be manipulated by headlines, paragraph sequencing and commentary masquerading as fact – not to mention the selection of op-eds.
Consider this piece by Reuters’ Brussels-based correspondent Justyna Pawlak. The optimism oozing out of the headline – “World Powers see Iran’s Rouhani as chance for nuclear deal” – engulfs the first seven paragraphs. Readers hit the flipside opinion only when they reach paragraph eight – if they get that far:
Adding some skepticism voiced by negotiators from the six powers, the diplomat said: “We will have to judge the new Iranian government by its actions.”
Pawlak doesn’t stop there. Referring to Rouhani’s past activities in the nuclear crisis from 2003-2005, she confidently determines that agreements reached at that time were “ultimately undone by mutual distrust.” Problem: Rouhani himself has admitted several times that he exploited those understandings to advance Iran’s nuclear program – giving the west good cause for mistrust.
(Check out this AFP report on the same issue, for an example of more balanced reporting.)
Now a word about the NYT: we’re on record complementing its Tehran correspondent Thomas Erdbrink, but we cannot understand why its editorial board insists on presenting only one side of the Iranian issue (past reminder).
Something to do with the views of executive editor Jill Abramson, who’s expressed doubt about IAEA information in the past?
New evidence: its recent editorial basically accepting Tehran’s negotiating position, followed by this op-ed echoing the editorial and written by a fairly unknown member of the Eurasia Group, which boasts Thomas Pickering – known opponent of sanctions – on its advisory board.
See how easy it is to pull the wool over media-consumers’ eyes?