The build-up was impressive, but in the end even the media was forced to admit that Hassan Rouhani’s UN address left something to be desired. Many did so pretty much against their will, either ignoring what was left unstated or excusing what was (Khamanei/IRGC to blame).
In his own UN address, President Obama was very clear
in setting expectations: “we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
The media, however, prefered on the whole to focus on Rouhani’s call for “tolerance” (what is it with the NYT
?) and downplay his equally clear message to those who seek implementation of UNSC resolutions: forget about it.
On the contrary, quite a few journalists – such as the CSM
‘s Scott Peterson- tweeted
his comment that Iran is exactly like every other country when it comes to nuclear activities…
During the buildup there were media references here and there to a few prisoner releases, but at money time the issue seemingly vanished from coverage as if no one really cared. Furthermore, we saw absolutely no media reference to the fact that this issue was totally omitted from the UN speech.
As we anticipated, this was indeed the issue that would tell us much about the texture of Tehran’s changing winds. The media failed to emphasize that Rouhani did not admit the occurence of the Holocaust in his speech, but it did raise the question in interviews. Even the most reluctant journalist could not ignore the issue further when the Iranian president’s convoluted and unsatisfactory effort in this direction
‘s Christiane Amanpour met with opposition at home
(Khamenei/IRGC to blame). We were particularly amused by the NYT‘s rhetorical summersaults
on Rouhani’s behalf.
On the other side of the Atlantic: the British Telegraph lashed
into FM Hague for not noticing the supposed change in the air. No need for Hague to reply, other than to quote this biting editorial
titled: “Iran can get respect when it behaves respectably” (cudos).
To sum up
: All this reminds us of a recent claim
made by the Huffington Post
regarding the continued demise of foreign news. Coverage of Rouhani’s UN speech, and visit in general, proved at least that much – if nothing else.