The moment the media has been waiting for is here: Ahmadinejad out, Rouhani in. In his inauguration speech, the new president warned against more sanctions. Nothing new there.
We have to admit that the media tendency to give Rouhani the weeks-long benefit of the doubt led to some fine journalism when controversy erupted on Friday over translation of his comments on the occasion of Tehran’s annual (nasty) Palestinian-solidarity event.
For those who somehow missed it: in its original reportage, the Iranian media quoted the new president as basically calling for Israel’s destruction. Then came western media efforts to prove the Iranian media wrong (as far as we could tell, pioneered by Meir Javendafar).
Even before Rouhani’s camp issued its own translation the NYT’s Thomas Erdbrink rushed out a (similar) independent translation (also reprimanding the Iranian media for errantly quoting its new president). And so the corrected version– that Israel’s occupation is an ‘old wound’ on the Islamic world – made the rounds.
End of story? Not so fast…
Firstly, not sure news consumers should feel totally comfortable with the exemption the media has apparently granted Iran’s president from any change in style on the Israel issue – even if those two countries are always at each other’s throats.
Secondly, the media ignored a telling comment by Khamenei – the real boss – at Saturday’s changing-of-the-guard event. Apparently responding to the new president’s reference to the importance of sanctions relief, Khameini said that while international politicking is important it should be handled “with a wise and foresighted approach.” In any case, he added, Rouhani’s administration should focus on economic and scientific issues.
Think Rouhani knows what Khamenei’s scientific means? Another mystery the media will have to solve in covering Tehran’s new government.