During a report for Sunday’s NBC Nightly News on Iran marking the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, correspondent Ali Arouzi fretted that “all is not well in the Islamic Republic” as he observed: “The anniversary, usually marked with widespread displays of anti-Americanism, muted, with only a few U.S. flags burnt in protest.”
On Thursday’s Morning Joe, MSNBC panelists discussed a report by The Wall Street Journal that President Trump had attempted to begin negotiations with Iran over the release of American prisoners held there. While none present on the panel opposed the negotiations themselves, that did not preclude them from using the occasion to criticize the President.
President Trump isn’t just empowering dictators by criticizing the mainstream press, he’s also doing so by abandoning the promotion of human rights overseas. That’s the thrust of Friday’s front-page New York Times story by Cairo bureau chief Declan Walsh, “In Unquestioning U.S. Embrace, Autocrats Steamroll Opposition.” The text box: “A president’s silence on abuses by allies emboldens despots in Egypt and elsewhere.” But where was this concern for human rights when Republicans criticized ran this year, or Russia or Egypt previously?
On Friday’s Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius tried to explain the current anti-government protests in Iran by painting a broader picture of a “red state Iran” and a “blue state Iran.” Scarborough described “red state Iran” as a place that “wanted to keep the mullahs in charge,” whereas “[b]lue state Iran wanted to move Iran into the 20th century.”
Thursday marked one week since the small protests in Mashhad, Iran that sparked the ongoing, country-wide uprising that’s left the tyrannical regime in a panic. Thursday also marked the second day since numerous salacious passages from journalist Michael Wolff’s gossip-laden book about Trump’s White House were released to the press. Despite the growth and length of the Iran protests, the three major network news outlets (ABC, CBS, and NBC) found more interest in Wolff’s palace intrigue that the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom.
Timing is everything, and if you’re going to argue that American women are oppressed by the current administration, the patriarchy, the wage gap, or ponying up for their own birth control, try not to do it while women are very publicly facing actual oppression of the jailing-beating-shooting variety.
After the morning news casts showed substantially more interest in the Iranian protests on Tuesday morning than they had shown over the holiday weekend, by Wednesday morning coverage of Iran had mostly collapsed, leaving FNC's Fox and Friends giving substantially more attention to the story than all the news shows from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC in the same time slot combined -- including more than six times as much as CNN's New Day show.
The network coverage of the Iranian protests has been utterly abysmal. From ignoring them all together to downplaying the murder of protesters, the major news outlets have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to cover the spontaneous uprising. Tuesday was no different with ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News downplaying the size and expansiveness of the demonstrations. CBS Evening News went off the deep end and started openly questioning who was actually killing the protesters.
As the protests in cities and towns across Iran enter their sixth day, the New York Times has caught a lot of flak in the wake of its passive, often misleading initial coverage of the political uprising, as people rebel against the oppressive state, and shout slogans blaming the government for focusing on Hezbollah and Palestine while ignoring issues at home. The paper’s Tehran-based reporter Thomas Erdbrink, who has a history of excuse-making for the regime, got off to an awful start with “Protests in Iran Over Economic Woes Spread, Including to the Capital.” It led with this: "Protests over the Iranian government’s handling of the economy spread to several cities on Friday, including Tehran, in what appeared to be a sign of unrest."
The hosts at The View are not strangers to comparing President Trump to dictators and terrorists. They spent several shows in 2016 and 2017 comparing the Republican agenda to terrorism, and claiming that Trump was turning America into the Taliban.
On Monday evening, the broadcast networks began paying more attention to the anti-government protests in Iran, with ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News for the first time finally running full reports on the events. But ABC's piece also characterized President Donald Trump as "adding fuel to the fire" by tweeting out support for the protesters.
Monday morning's newscasts made a stark illustration of how much importance FNC places on the issue of human rights in Iran in contrast with the broadcast networks and CNN as Fox and Friends managed to spend five times as much time on the anti-government protests as ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN all combined that morning.