Monday, February 20, 2006

The U.S. Press and Iran: Foreign Policy and the Journalism of Deference

Chomsky talks about the way the U.S. press reacted to the 1953 coup backed by the CIA and how the press portrayed Iran under the Shah to the American public: "In fact the reaction at the time, if you look, is quite interesting. After the coup they knew what had happened. They pretended that they didn't but it was pretty clear what had happened. The New York Times ran an editorial in which it said the overthrow of the Mossadegh government "will be an object lesson to governments that go berserk with hysterical nationalis" meaning they go berserk by trying to control their own resources. This will be an object lesson of what will happen to them. That's the way it was understood - teaching a lesson to any country that is trying to control it's own resources. That was praised in The New York Times. Then came the - I don't have to describe to you what the Shah's regime was like - very ugly, one of the worst torturers and killers. Almost nothing was reported. I mean almost nothing was reported - I mean Amnesty International - year after year picked out Iran as one of the worst criminal states in the world for its treatment of its population - virtually nothing. The only discussion of this began in 1979. Then there was some talk on this. There is a pretty good book on this by Farhang and Dorman ( The U.S. Press and Iran: Foreign Policy and the Journalism of Deference ), which just reviews the coverage and it's pretty shocking. The fact that they came out now with documentary material is good because it's nice to have material but when you read the reports they basically tell you nothing that you didn't already know." - Things you'll never hear

About the book, a reviewer wrote: "No one seriously interested in the character of public knowledge and the quality of debate over American alliances can afford to ignore the complex link between press and policy and the ways in which mainstream journalism in the U.S. portrays a Third World ally. The case of Iran offers a particularly rich view of these dynamics and suggests that the press is far from fulfilling the watchdog role assigned it in democratic theory and popular imagination."

"This book is a case study of the American media's coverage of events in Iran from 1951-1978. For those who still needed convincing, it shows that public knowledge and debate is shaped by the major media to serve the needs of U.S. foreign policy. ... "In short, at least historically, American liberals were (and are) supportive of U.S. foreign policy during the cold war. The political right's paranoia or misreading of history does not alter this truth." (p.219)" -

No comments: