NBC Dismisses Trump Support for Iranian Protesters, Touts Propaganda

On Sunday evening, the NBC Nightly News was the only network evening newscast to run a full report on the anti-government demonstrations in Iran. But, on the down side, the report dismissed President Donald Trump's words of support for protesters as not helpful, and did little to counter the authoritarian regime's propaganda.

After devoting a paltry 21 seconds to the events on Saturday night, ABC's World News Tonight had completely lost interest by Sunday. The CBS Evening News was preempted Sunday, but had completely ignored the story when the show did air Saturday night.

 

On NBC, host Kate Snow introduced Sunday's report:

In Iran, protesters demonstrated against the government for a fourth day today, and two people were reportedly killed at a rally in Western Iran. In a tweet today, President Trump cheered on the protesters, and he was criticized by Iran's president. NBC's Matt Bradley has more on this new wave of protests.

Reporter Matt Bradley began his piece repeating the Iranian president's anti-Trump comments, and denials of responsibility for the deaths of two protesters:

In Iran, the regime strikes back. After four days of anti-government protests and just as many tweets from Donald Trump supporting protesters for "finally getting wise, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani broke his silence. In a speech to his cabinet, he defended demonstrators' right to protest, but took a swipe at President Trump.

"This man in America who's sympathizing with us today has forgotten he called Americans 'terrorists' months ago," Rouhani said, "He has no right to sympathize with Iranians." The unrest now deadly -- two protesters killed at a rally last night. Officials blaming the deaths on foreign agents.

The report soon further undermined Trump's response to the demonstrations:

MATT BRADLEY: Experts say President Trump's tweets won't help Iranians.

BARBARA SLAVIN, ATLANTIC COUNCIL'S FUTURE OF IRAN INTIATIVE: His actions in terms of travel bans, visa bans, his very nasty things he's said about Iranians, you know these have not earned him a great deal of goodwill in Iran.

Unlike Saturday night when Snow recalled that protesters were "crushed" by the government in 2009, Sunday's report did not forthrightly recall the draconian actions of the past. Bradley waited until the very last sentence of his piece to only vaguely hint that the Iranian government might take stern actions against protesters: "Some activists even chanting against Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A dangerous move in a country where politics are dominated by clerics with a history of crushing dissent."

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By contrast, during a three-minute report that ran on FNC's Fox Report on Sunday, correspondent Ellison Barber included arguments against some of the Iranian regime's propaganda and denial of responsibility for violence:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stayed quiet publicly until today. In a speech, Rouhani said the people have the right to protest, but violence is not acceptable. Over 200 people were arrested Saturday in anti-government protests in Iran. Two people, according to government officials, died at another protest in the city of Dorun. Security officials said the protest was illegal and that the two deaths occurred during, quote, "the clash."

They also said, quote, "No bullets were shot from police." Opposition groups dispute that. They say police and government security forces opened fire on protesters. [audio gap] -- can be heard in the distance as people rush out of the crowd in Dorun. In one portion of one of those videos from Dorun, four or five people are running and clearly carrying an injured person away from the chaos. At another point, Molly, the video appears to show protesters bleeding from bullet wounds.

Below is a complete transcript of the NBC Nightly News report from Sunday, December 31

KATE SNOW: In Iran, protesters demonstrated against the government for a fourth day today, and two people were reportedly killed at a rally in Western Iran. In a tweet today, President Trump cheered on the protesters, and he was criticized by Iran's president. NBC's Matt Bradley has more on this new wave of protests.

MATT BRADLEY: In Iran, the regime strikes back. After four days of anti-government protests and just as many tweets from Donald Trump supporting protesters for "finally getting wise, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani broke his silence. In a speech to his cabinet, he defended demonstrators' right to protest, but took a swipe at President Trump.

"This man in America who's sympathizing with us today has forgotten he called Americans 'terrorists' months ago," Rouhani said, "He has no right to sympathize with Iranians." The unrest now deadly -- two protesters killed at a rally last night. Officials blaming the deaths on foreign agents.

Today, an official warned that protesters who cause disorder will pay the price. Iranian security forces are confronting protesters in the streets, organizing pro-government counterprotests, and shutting down social media websites like Instagram and Telegram -- a highly encrypted text messaging service that's popular in Iran, Experts say President Trump's tweets won't help Iranians.

BARBARA SLAVIN, ATLANTIC COUNCIL'S FUTURE OF IRAN INTIATIVE: His actions in terms of travel bans, visa bans, his very nasty things he's said about Iranians, you know these have not earned him a great deal of goodwill in Iran.

BRADLEY: But this movement has taken on a life of its own. What started on Thursday as a burst of anger against soaring prices and unemployment has widened into nationwide demonstrations, the largest since 2009. Some activists even chanting against Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A dangerous move in a country where politics are dominated by clerics with a history of crushing dissent.


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