For obvious reasons, I am behind on my writing about the various outrages that result from even a cursory attention to the news. So you will forgive me if I dig back a bit into my collection of current events. Over a week ago, Glenn Greenwald brought my attention to a bit of mainstream media propaganda that is totally unacceptable, Brian Williams’ Iran Propaganda.
On the 27 September NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams covered Obama’s historic phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. He said, “This is all part of a new leadership effort by Iran—suddenly claiming they don’t want nuclear weapons!” Greenwald goes into the long history of Iran claiming this, including the fatwa by the top leadership in Iran. Iranian official Ramin Mehmanparast said, “We are the first country to call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. When the highest jurist and authority in the country’s leadership issues a fatwa, this will be binding for all of us to follow. So, this fatwa will be our top agenda.”
More to the point: for a number of years there has been no evidence at all that the Iranians are trying to build nuclear weapons. And if you look at the world from Iran’s perspective, they are much more interested in getting nuclear weapons out of Israel than they are getting them into Iran. The big unstated fact is that Israel has lots of nuclear weapons and that has to concern the rest of the countries in the Middle East, especially considering how belligerent the Israelis are. (Not that I’m saying they don’t have some cause for that!)
None of this takes away from the fact that Iran might be working on a nuclear weapon or that they might at least want one. I’m absolutely certain that some people in Iran want nukes; there are those kinds of people everywhere (especially in the United States). But Williams’ comment is really interesting because it shows that it doesn’t much matter what Iran (or pretty much any other country) says; he doesn’t listen. If he wants to hate on Iran, fine; he could say, “Iran has long claimed they don’t want nuclear weapons, but objective journalists like me—Brian Williams—know better!” But to pretend that Iran has not been saying what they most definitely have is beneath contempt.
More than that, it is dangerous. I remember after the Iraq invasion, after it was clear there were no weapons of mass destruction, people in the mainstream press were amazed. I even remember someone on television (I don’t remember who) saying, “Why didn’t Saddam Hussein just say he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction?!” That blew my mind. I didn’t follow the news nearly as much as I now do, yet I knew that Hussein had said just that over and over and over again. Whenever it was mentioned, of course, it was ridiculed. At minimum, the subtext was, “Yeah, right!”
I suspect if the neocons got their way and we had a huge war with Iran that killed (my guess) a couple million people, we would find the same thing. It would turn out that the Iranian government had no nuclear weapons program. If that happened, I can well imagine Brian Williams saying with some shock, “Why didn’t they just tell us they had no nuclear weapons?!” And similarly ignorant American television audiences everywhere would scratch their heads, “It’s a puzzler, ain’t it?”