Thomas Erdbrink, Tehran bureau chief for the New York Times, for some reason likened the United States to an ‘evil doppelganger’ in his coverage of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution: “For Iran, a Grand Occasion To Bash ‘Cruel Enemies.’” That would be the United States.
His Monday survey, if a little rose-colored, at least included an archive photo of an American hostage taken at the American embassy in Tehran in November 1979. But on Tuesday he went full hagiography over the brutal Iranian regime, with no mention of the American hostage crisis or of the brutal crackdown of protests against Hassan Rouhani’s regime a year ago.
He made it sound like a nice day out:
Braving a drenching rain, Iranians came out in droves on Monday to march up Revolution Street to the capital’s Freedom Monument, including families pushing strollers decorated with balloons in the red, white and green of the country’s flag, clerics, teenagers and others, for a huge state-backed rally commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
While such rallies are organized every year on Feb. 11, this year’s seemed larger, despite the uninviting weather. And like some evil doppelganger, the United States was omnipresent, despite having broken all ties with Iran in 1981.
An “evil doppelganger”? Really? Erdbrink continued:
President Hassan Rouhani, speaking to the sprawling crowd at the Freedom Monument, said the country was in the middle of “a psychological and economical war, waged by cruel enemies.” That was a clear reference to the United States and the sanctions the Trump administration reimposed after it unilaterally withdrew from a global deal over Iran’s nuclear program.
Erdbrink against skipped the hostage crisis of 1979, in which American diplomats and workers in Tehran were kept as hostages for over a year:
In numerous interviews, the rally participants seemed well-informed about the issues facing the country, which are numerous. Economic experts are predicting an inflation rate of as much as 50 percent in the coming year, starting from March 21 in Iran. The government is grappling with a large loss in oil income, attributed to Washington’s pressure on buyers combined with low oil prices.
It's worth noting that Erdbrink skipped the deadly protests from just a year ago:
Took time to not only show a photo of “An effigy of President Trump, who was the focus of Iranian ire at the anniversary rally,” but to talk to the family that had made it.
After emphasizing Iran's economic problems, he briefly cited other problems as well, but kept it vague:
....Mismanagement and corruption, reported on extensively by foreign-based Persian-language satellite channels, have strongly undermined faith in Iran’s leaders.
And he then hid the religious restriction on female participation in daily life with euphemism:
Along the route there is entertainment, provided by state organizations. Because the entertainment needs to be Islamic, there were male clowns praising the Iranian flag (“the most beautiful flag in the world”), silver-painted men posing as living statutes and several male choirs, all dressed in gray suits and singing high-pitched a cappella songs in praise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the revolution.
In early 2018, Erdbrink was accused of whitewashing the repression and deadly protests in Iran, claiming that the rebellion against the regime and the clerics was purely about economic issues like the price of eggs, and insisting that the legitimacy of the Rouhani regime was not being challenged.