ABC and NBC Ignore Iran Sentencing Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian to Prison

Amidst all the news about gas prices and weather forecasts for this Thanksgiving week, Monday’s morning and evening newscasts on ABC and NBC found no time to mention that Washington Post reporter and U.S. citizen Jason Rezaian had been sentenced by Iran’s Revolutionary Court to an unspecified prison term after being detained in July 2014.

A dual citizen in both countries, Rezaian had spent the past three years as The Post’s Tehran correspondent before being arrested by the ruthless Islamic regime for supposedly spying against Iran for the U.S. Iranian state media did not disclose on Sunday the terms for which Rezaian had been convicted of.

A dual citizen in both countries, Rezaian had spent the past three years as The Post’s Tehran correspondent before being arrested by the ruthless Islamic regime for supposedly spying against Iran for the U.S. Iranian state media did not disclose on Sunday the terms for which Rezaian had been convicted of.

In contrast, both CBS This Morning and the CBS Evening News devoted news briefs to this new chapter in what’s become an unsettling case for the freedom of the press around the globe. Co-host Norah O’Donnell explained on CBS This Morning in an 18-second brief during the show’s newspaper headlines segment that: 

The Washington Post reports on one of its journalists, Jason Rezaian, receiving a prison sentence in Iran. The dual American-Iranian citizen has been held 16 months accused of spying. A court convicted him last month. Iran has not revealed the length of the prison term. The Post is calling for his immediate release.

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Rezaian’s fate in Iran fetched only a few more second with 22 seconds total on the CBS Evening News as Scott Pelley read this brief:

Iran has sentenced Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian to prison, but it did not say for how long. Rezaian is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran. He was arrested in July of last year and charged with spying on Iran's nuclear program. Rezaian's family and The Post have vehemently denied that allegation.

As a Post article outlined, the newspaper, his lawyer, and loved ones have all emphasized that he’s innocent: 

Since Rezaian’s arrest, The Post has maintained that he is innocent and called for his immediate release.

“We’re aware of the reports in the Iranian media but have no further information at this time,” said Douglas Jehl, The Post’s foreign editor. “Every day that Jason is in prison is an injustice. He has done nothing wrong.

“Even after keeping Jason in prison 488 days so far, Iran has produced no evidence of wrongdoing,” Jehl added. “His trial and sentence are a sham, and he should be released immediately.”

It’s worth noting that while the State Department has continued to call for his release, they neglected to secure Rezaian as a condition of the nuclear deal it reached in August with Iran.

The transcript of the brief from November 23's CBS This Morning can be found below.

CBS This Morning
November 23, 2015
7:32 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN NEWSPAPER HEADLINE: The Washington Post, “Post correspondent Jason Rezaian sentenced to prison term in Iran”]

NORAH O’DONNELL: The Washington Post reports on one of its journalists, Jason Rezaian, receiving a prison sentence in Iran. The dual American-Iranian citizen has been held 16 months accused of spying. A court convicted him last month. Iran has not revealed the length of the prison term. The Post is calling for his immediate release. 

The relevant portion of the transcript from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on November 23 can be found below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
November 23, 2015
6:42 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Sentenced]

SCOTT PELLEY: Iran has sentenced Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian to prison, but it did not say for how long. Rezaian is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran. He was arrested in July of last year and charged with spying on Iran's nuclear program. Rezaian's family and The Post have vehemently denied that allegation.

NB Daily Foreign Policy Iran Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission ABC Good Morning America World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News CBS This Morning NBC NBC Nightly News Today Washington Post Video Government & Press Norah O'Donnell Scott Pelley
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