After the media were initially slow to give attention to anti-government protests in Iran that have been running for three days, on Saturday evening the NBC Nightly News led with the story and put its competitors on ABC and CBS to shame as ABC's World News Tonight only gave the story 21 seconds, and the CBS Weekend News ignored the story completely. CBS did, however, find time to air its third full report in three consecutive days devoted to fretting over the possibility that private charities will suffer as a result of the Republican tax cut plan.
At the beginning of the NBC Nightly News opening tease, anchor Kate Snow gave viewers a hint of the protests' magnitude, and noted President Donald Trump's public reaction, as she plugged: "Tonight, the most widespread anti-government protests in Iran in years - a nationwide display of dissent in a country that has little tolerance for that. President Trump declares, 'Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever.'"
Introducing the report, Snow further played up how historically important the demonstrations are:
Good evening. For the third day in a row, anti-government protesters took to the streets in Iran in what appear to be the most widespread demonstrations since the government crushed a big reform movement in 2009. There was also a large pro-government rally in Tehran today. And, from Florida, President Trump weighed in, saying, "The world is watching."
The entire report lasted two minutes and 27 seconds, as correspondent Kelly O'Donnell filled viewers in on events in Iran, and then informed viewers of the Trump administration's public reactions.
FNC's Fox Report show spent two minutes and 24 seconds on the story as it was the second item presented shortly past 7:00 p.m. ET. On ABC, substitute anchor Dan Harris ran a brief:
We turn overseas now to Iran, a third day of unauthorized protests, and Donald Trump is weighing in. Demonstrators gathering in several cities protesting the economy and government corruption. Some even blasting the country's supreme religious leader. President Trump tweeting in support of the protesters twice today, saying, "Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever," and, "The world is watching!"
CNN -- which does not have an equivalent evening newscast -- has been devoting significant time to the story, and during the 7:00 p.m. ET hour, CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera spent more than seven minutes on Iran by first running a full report, and then there was a segment which began with a discussion of Iran with Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd appearing as a guest.
Below is a complete transcript of the NBC Nightly News report from Saturday, December 30:
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KATE SNOW, IN OPENING TEASE: Tonight, the most widespread anti-government protests in Iran in years - a nationwide display of dissent in a country that has little tolerance for that. President Trump declares, "Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever."
SNOW: Good evening. For the third day in a row, anti-government protesters took to the streets in Iran in what appear to be the most widespread demonstrations since the government crushed a big reform movement in 2009. There was also a large pro-government rally in Tehran today. And, from Florida, President Trump weighed in, saying, "The world is watching." NBC's Kelly O'Donnell is there with more.
KELLY O'DONNELL: On the streets of Iran's capital, days of public protests reached a boiling point. Not seen for nearly a decade, the kindling to this show of anger and desperation is a poor economy with few jobs and rising prices, brewing unrest that drew the attention of President Trump's Twitter feed. "Iranian govt should respect their people's rights, including the right to express themselves. The world is watching!" Echoing the President's message delivered at the United Nations.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The longest-suffering victims of Iran's leaders are, in fact, its own people.
O'DONNELL: The volatile conditions today moved many young people to demonstrate against the government spontaneously as word spread through social media posts. By contrast, a more organized and scheduled wave of pro-government support turned out to praise the supreme leaders, Ayatollah Khamenei, as thousands backed the regime. The U.S. designates Iran a "state sponsor of terror." President Trump has refused to certify the Obama-era agreement to blunt Iran's nuclear program.
This weekend's protest response is coordinated from the State Department. "The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters." The White House press secretary: "Iranian citizens fed up with the regime's corruption and its squandering of the nation's wealth to fund terrorism abroad." And the President tweeted excerpts of his United Nations address to amplify pressure and encourage other nations to aid protesters.
TRUMP: -- that Iran's people are what their leaders fear the most.
O'DONNELL: And demonstrations spread across Iran. There are reports tonight of bloody violence towards some of those protesters, but those are unconfirmed reports. The Iranian government also responded to President Trump, saying his words were "deceitful" and "opportunist."