June 27, 2009

Iran Fading From Media Attention

NedaIranMartyr0609(Photo is of the martyred “Neda“)

In a passionate Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning (“Silence Has Consequences for Iran”), former Spanish Prime Minister José Aznar who, in case anyone cares, serves on the board of WSJ parent News Corp., says that “It would be a shame …. if our passivity gave carte blanche to a tyrannical regime to finish off the dissidents and persist with its revolutionary plans.”

Shaking off passivity requires visibility. America’s media establishment almost across the board is providing very little. The Associated Press and the New York Times reports exist, but their distribution is dwarfed by the death of a pop star and a governor’s infidelity.

Here are useful comparisons (all searches were done at Google News at about 8:45 a.m. for June 23-27, limited to USA sources):

“Michael Jackson” (entered in quotes) –

MJacksonGoogNewSearch062709

“Mark Sanford” (entered in quotes) –

GoogNewsSearchSanford062709

“Iran” –

GoogNewIranSearch062709

Recapping the score on “all articles” after the main headline: Jackson – 20,375; Sanford – 9,576; Iran – 4,689.

The total results number (Jackson 25,457; Sanford -11,166 ; Iran – 64,235) is probably less reliable than the numbers in the previous paragraph. For example, about  1/3 of the Google News results total for “Iran” appears to be more about how Jackson has crowded out Iran on Twitter and Google that about events in that country –

MJacksonOverloadsNet062709.jpg

Getting to the coverage most aren’t seeing, here are the opening paragraphs from the Associated Press’s coverage found at NPR:

Iranian Cleric Urges Executing Some Protesters

A senior cleric on Friday urged Iran’s protest leaders to be punished “without mercy” and said some should face execution — harsh calls that signal a nasty new turn in the regime’s crackdown on demonstrators two weeks after its disputed election.

Hard-liners have ordered long sentences and hangings before, and some fear those awaiting trial by a judiciary whose verdicts reflect the will of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could face the most severe punishments the Islamic system can dish out.

“Anyone who takes up arms to fight with the people, they are worthy of execution,” Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami, a ranking cleric, said in a nationally broadcast sermon at Tehran University.

Khatami said those who disturbed the peace and destroyed public property were “at war with God” and should be “dealt with without mercy.”

His call for merciless retribution for those who stirred up Iran’s largest wave of dissent since the 1979 Islamic Revolution came as Mir Hossein Mousavi, the nation’s increasingly isolated opposition leader, has been under heavy pressure to give up his fight and slipped even further from view.

Mousavi said he would seek official permission for any future rallies, effectively ending his role in street protests organized by supporters who insist he – not hard-line incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – won the June 12 election.

Here are the opening paragraphs from a June 26 story by Nazila Fathi and Michael Slackman in the New York Times, which to its credit had the story near the top at its front page most of this morning and as of the time of this post:

Iranian Leaders Gaining the Edge Over Protesters

The direct confrontation over Iran’s presidential election was effectively silenced Friday when the main opposition leader said he would seek permits for any future protests, an influential cleric suggested that leaders of the demonstrations could be executed, and the council responsible for validating the election repeated its declaration that there were no major irregularities.

Rather than address the underlying issues that led to the most sustained, unexpected challenge to the leadership since the 1979 revolution, the government pressed its effort to recast the entire conflict not as an internal dispute that brought millions of Iranians into the streets, but as one between Iran and outside agents from Europe, the United States and even Saudi Arabia.

It was a narrative that spoke both to the leadership’s belief that it had beaten back the popular outburst, and to the fragility of the calm.

Even the Times gets a few brickbats for not telling us that “millions” had hit the streets until now. I don’t know that AP ever has. The Times headline also leans toward sterile.

Both reports clearly show that the protesters’ situation has taken a serious turn for the worse. This seems to be a virtual secret in most of the celebrity-obsessed, scandal-obsessed US establishment media, sadly including Fox News.

As the WSJ’s Aznar notes, this plays into the hands of Khamenei’s regime. It should be a source of media shame.

As to television, Brent Baker at NewsBusters noted last night that “Friday night’s broadcast network evening newscasts which …. spent 95 percent of their air time on Michael Jackson — all but 1:03 of ABC’s approximate 22 minutes was devoted to Jackson, all but 34 seconds of CBS and all but 1:22 of NBC, for 2:59, less than three minutes in total for all news beyond Jackson.”

Oh, and someone help me with something — What is this “cap and trade” thing? Is it some kind of sports collectibles show?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

‘The less we protest, the more people will die.’

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:38 am

This is why the difference between Reagan’s response to Poland and Obama’s response to Iran is so stark, and in Obama’s case, so tragic, as Spain’s former prime minister tells us in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today:

Silence Has Consequences for Iran

If there hadn’t been dissidents in the Soviet Union, the Communist regime never would have crumbled. And if the West hadn’t been concerned about their fate, Soviet leaders would have ruthlessly done away with them. They didn’t because the Kremlin feared the response of the Free World.

Just like the Soviet dissidents who resisted communism, those who dare to march through the streets of Tehran and stand up against the Islamic regime founded by the Ayatollah Khomeini 30 years ago represent the greatest hope for change in a country built on the repression of its people. At stake is nothing less than the legitimacy of a system incompatible with respect for individual rights. Also at stake is the survival of a theocratic regime that seeks to be the dominant power in the region, the indisputable spiritual leader of the Muslim world, and the enemy of the West.

The Islamic Republic that the ayatollahs have created is not just any power. To defend a strict interpretation of the Quran, Khomeini created the Pasdaran, the Revolutionary Guard, which today is a true army. To expand its ideology and influence Iran has not hesitated to create, sustain and use proxy terrorist groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. And to impose its fundamentalist vision beyond its borders, Iran is working frantically to obtain nuclear weapons.

Those who protest against the blatant electoral fraud that handed victory to the fanatical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are in reality demanding a change of regime. Thus, the regime has resorted to beating and shooting its citizens in a desperate attempt to squash the pro-democracy movement.

This is no time for hesitation on the part of the West. If, as part of an attempt to reach an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, the leaders of democratic nations turn their backs on the dissidents they will be making a terrible mistake.

….. …. Delayed public displays of indignation may be good for internal political consumption. But the consequences of Western inaction have already materialized. Watching videos of innocent Iranians being brutalized, it’s hard to defend silence.

My guess is that it’s already too late, and even if it somehow isn’t, that our President is only too relieved (or is it glad?) to let a celebrity-obsessed and personal scandal-obsessed media culture wallows in its addictions for a few days while Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guard do their mop-up.

__________________________________________

Related: At the New York Times, which to its credit has the story near the top on its home page —

Iranian Leaders Gaining the Edge Over Protesters

TEHRAN — The direct confrontation over Iran’s presidential election was effectively silenced Friday when the main opposition leader said he would seek permits for any future protests, an influential cleric suggested that leaders of the demonstrations could be executed, and the council responsible for validating the election repeated its declaration that there were no major irregularities.

Also Related: Sorry Neda ….

Also related: At NewsBusters — “Friday night’s broadcast network evening newscasts …. spent 95 percent of their air time on Michael Jackson — all but 1:03 of ABC’s approximate 22 minutes was devoted to Jackson, all but 34 seconds of CBS and all but 1:22 of NBC, for 2:59, less than three minutes in total for all news beyond Jackson.”

Positivity: A Great Video About Service

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:14 am

Go there. You won’t regret it.