A media maelstrom erupted last month over the January 2016 capture of two US Navy boats by the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The sailors were released after 15 hours (in which they were held at gunpoint and forced to “apologize”) following a spate of intensive diplomacy between Tehran and Washington, leading the media to suggest that it had been the nuclear deal and the cooperation it had apparently ushered which caused the matter to be resolved so quickly.
In May, however, the naval incident was revisited by the media after US Rep. Randy Forbes (R., VA.) told the Washington Free Beacon that the incident had been far more sinister – and far less benign – than initial reports had suggested.
Besides the international and maritime law violations by Iran in this incident, as highlighted by navytimes , the tower and other outlets, and in addition to a series of intimidations, aggressions and provocations, Forbes revealed that the “classified details” behind the sailors’ treatment at Iran’s hands were far more “shocking” than the details released so far.
Forbes’s statements triggered a media fallout, with some outlets pointing fingers at the US administration for keeping the information classified.
However, the revelations should have elicited a far stronger fallout against Iran, which was content with claiming that the soldiers were treated “leniently,” even after Forbes’s comments came to light. However, even the information which has been made public (especially by Iran) – that the soldiers were captured, questioned and humiliated at gunpoint, as well as forced to praise their captors’ “fantastic” behavior – points to a distinct hostility and lack of leniency.
However, outside of conservative websites, few media outlets reported Forbes’s words, and fewer yet took Iran to task for its glaring hypocrisy. Overall, the media’s focus seemed to have been on Washington’s decision to keep the information classified – rather than on the latest proof of Iran’s duplicity and belligerence. The silence of the media on this issue may serve as further proof of the so called echo chamber. While the administration may admit in the nytimes they had an interest in playing down the sailor story, what is the media’s excuse?