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Iran, Bias And The Bomb – OpEd

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By Mahdi Fadlallah Kassem

In general, most of the concepts developed today by the public are usually reflected upon the media, specifically the United States’ (US) public and media.

The US media has interpreted information from their sources that have, to a great extent, affected the perceptions of the American public about international affairs mainly, the nuclear program in Iran. The topic of the nuclear program in Iran has brought a wide range of importance that have aroused the views of the American public through their international window of the US media; for that it is the US media that has taken the task to peer into another country’s occurrences and process the events towards their viewer’s to give them their version of the story behind Iran’s nuclear program which has shaped the opinions of the US public.

All news networks have different methods of interpreting information; those methods, however, give different people various view points about the information presented. For example, when regarding Fox News and comparing it with NBC News, Fox News is a more conservative yet exaggerated news station on affairs while NBC news stays moderate with news adding opinions to the broadcasting of the news. The US stands victim towards these various stations that today have developed some common misconceptions around the US public.

Upon looking at Iran’s media, yes there are similarities to that of the US media however; there is one main Iran news station that stays conservative and moderate when reciting their information to the public, Press TV.

This particular news station is an institution that features many programs as a part of their news broadcast that displays, in many people’s point of view, the truth of what occurs in the world, especially in the topic of Iran’s nuclear program. Press TV, when delivering the news, does not insert any type of perspective from them but interprets the news in the exact form in which it was taken from, the correct form.

It is because of this news station that it has made an international breakthrough. The station welcomes peoples’ opinions and perspectives during the time period of the broadcasting of the news. Debates between important political and governmental figures of various countries, including the US, are held where a series of questions are asked in those debates to clarify a point to the news station’s audience. News reporters from many countries work for Press TV, giving details about the main events that take place in the country, providing a mainframe of the real events that happen within the country towards the public’s eyes. The US media and the Iranian media differ greatly in both context and methods of interpreting the news.

When contrasting between the US and Iranian media, the news told by the US media is told as a narrative that ends in only the way that is wanted by a specific news station. However, the Iranian media presents the news in a conservative format, where every main point of the news is implemented to reveal to the public of the major happenings of the world. In response to Iran’s nuclear program, the US media has targeted Iran as being the main opponent of the United States thus creating an aura of opposition of the American public towards Iran. In Iran, the news does not target any country in any way but performs its duty as a news station and delivers the news in its natural way of being, therefore, establishing a type of balance for the perspectives of the Iranian and international public.

The two media stations of both Iran and the United States are formed based on the design of their corporate owners and so they function in a way so as to receive high ratings for their news stations. The styles in which they function are of critical importance for that is the type of style that exposes its influence on the public. The formation of the publics’ views and critiques are heavily dependent on the interpretation of information from the media. Thereupon, in the United States, the media must not include bias so that the public can create a more open-minded opinion about certain affairs rather than possessing provincial concepts leaned toward the American structure of the media.

Operation of the News Departments

In America, people and corporations are ruled under a bureaucracy that extends its power towards institutions such as the media corporation. Now in the US media, information is gathered and processed with a script that accompanies the information. Now the reporter that creates the script is introduced to the information from interviews done with key people of an event or with research done about the event. Basically as soon as an event occurs, the US media corporations are the first ones to know either by further analysis done in the areas, by having reporters investigate situations, or by having people that are involved in an event contact them with a leading story. Upon writing scripts about the information, the US media anchors or reporters interpret the information to appeal to the public but, in large, appeal to the media corporation itself for that everything taken or written down is brought to the eyes of the hierarchical figures of the media corporation to revise what points to go through the camera or what points not to go in passage to the American public.

When introducing the news to the public, the media takes their information into consideration, especially with international information such as Iran’s nuclear program. With Iran’s nuclear program there have been a series of conferences done between President Ahmadinejad and President Bush continuing on with President Obama in facilities such as the United Nations. Once the US media covers a story about the critical international affair of Iran, they show parts of the conferences in which the people see and then gain those specific parts of the main idea of the conference within their mind; thus creating a general idea of that topic. For instance, in 2008, Fox news was covering a story about the UN meeting between President Bush and President Ahmadinejad, showing one scene from the meeting where President Bush had claimed that Iran must stop creating nuclear weapons. After the claim, before the President of Iran could offer a counter claim, Fox news transitioned the scene directly to another news story that had occurred.

Through the utilization of interviews, the media has forced upon the American public this great influence that is part of their formation of perspectives. Throughout the years of Iran’s nuclear development, on each year there are interviews conducted with President Ahmadinejad. These interviews are mainly about the government and the way of rule in Iran, also centralizing about Iran’s nuclear program.

Once the interviews are conducted, the person who is carrying out the interview constructs the questions as an ad hominem attack towards the President of Iran’s morals and country regulations, making the country and the President of Iran seem to be the enemies of the American nation. The interviewers frequently refer to the nuclear program of Iran by stating, “Iran has made advances with their nuclear program; interpreted by some as bringing Iran closer to building a nuclear bomb” (Wallace, CBS 60 minutes).

At this note, the interview becomes completely absorbed straight into the topic of the Iran nuclear program. In the CBS interview, Mark Wallace, the person conducting the interview, drives on into the subject of Iran’s nuclear program, trying to take the answers of the President of Iran and twisting the words into the direction in which he wants the people and himself to listen by simply asking another question or by skipping the current subject and moving on to another subject. For instance, after responding to a question, Wallace skipped on to another question by inquiring, “Israel, you have said time and again, Israel must be wiped off the map. Please explain why. And what is Iran doing about that?” (Wallace, CBS 60 minutes). The question was inquired before the President could finish responding to another question and so the President had stated, “Well, allow me to finish with the nuclear dossier first” (Wallace, CBS 60 minutes).

The operation done in the interview between Wallace and President Ahmadinejad was done to show the American perception of Iran. Wallace used many transitions to go from one topic in Iran to another. At one point in this interview, Wallace showed disrespect towards the President of Iran, when after the president ended the interview to attend to his night time prayers Wallace stopped him to ask a final question to which the president had already responded. Wallace had done this only to gather more information to convey a main point. However, the President responded to the questions inquired by Wallace through precision by stating throughout the interview that Iran was not building any type of nuclear weaponry.

In some cases in which President Ahmadinejad had presented his points and facts about Iran and its nuclear program, the interviews were transitioned to a commercial. For instance, on CNN when Larry King was conducting an interview with President Ahmadinejad, the President after clarifying a point made by Larry King was interrupted by King to transition to a commercial break. The reason for these breaks was to shorten the interview because at the end of the interview after the President had pointed out, “You’re a reporter. You should have the answers to these.” King replied by stating, “We’re out of time. We’ll pick this up next year with the President of Iran” (King, Larry King Live).

From one frame of reference, one might say that the US is committing acts of bigotry because the US media is trying to stay within their circle of belief by redirecting claims to make sense that their belief is the right one and that it cannot be contradicted. Time and time, again, the operations of the US media have been surpassed to achieve goals within the US media circle. The processing of the information by the US media is the basis that is the start of the growth of the false perceptions that the people of the United States have been filled with due to the ways of the processing of information. The operations such as the gathering of information may act as a hyperbole about the Iran nuclear program because the reports received by the news stations are from the people whose view on Iran’s nuclear program has been affected by the presentation of the news on the nuclear program. The operation of interpretation of the information through the writings of scripts is the other component of information processing that sets the story of Iran’s nuclear program. This is due to the cause that the interpretation of the information is what has the active role of donating a mindset from the US media toward its American public.

Processes done behind the media doors are processes that are part of a hierarchy of levels in which the standards of information are to be met in order to be presented towards the millions of American viewers. Now, the operations conducted to issue out the information goes through a manipulation of the information to form the various opinions of the American people. The manipulation is done through the passages of the levels of the hierarchy by revisionists that delete some of the contexts of the script sometimes the head of some of the news departments decide to not let the story be passed because of the contents of the story.

In reference to the nuclear program of Iran, the US media implemented methods of structuring of the events to place the topic as an issue of importance that remains controversial due to the involvement of interviews with the Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Thereupon, the US media, through the applications of operations, has, to a great extent, negatively influenced the American public due to the cause of the news about Iran’s nuclear program being dangerous and by labeling Iran to be a threat that is dangerous to be dealt with because of its nuclear program.

Iran’s Nuclear Program

In order to explain the media’s dissemination of information about the nuclear program in Iran, the historical context of the event must be established. During the late 1960’s, the US began to involve itself in the development of nuclear energy with the co-operation of the Shah of Iran. Now, with this involvement came the creation of the first nuclear facility in Iran in the year 1967, the Tehran Nuclear Research Centre (TNRC). With this facility, the US trained Iranian engineers working in the nuclear reactors, which led to the further developments and purchases of nuclear products by the Shah. However, once the Islamic revolution ended and the Shah was ousted, the production of nuclear reactors such as the Bushehr-1 and -2 stopped for a period of time.

When moving on into the 1980’s and 1990’s, Iran once again returned to producing nuclear energy. However, once it sought help from western countries such as the Latin American countries, the US intervened during the process of agreements and prevented any type of negotiation from occurring. Then, Iran turned to Russia for help and made a contract with the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy to complete the building of the Bushehr reactors. Now, of course, the US went through many attempts to dissuade or convince the Russians not to comply with the agreement, yet Russia remained firm on their stance with Iran and ignored the attempts of the US. Thus, Iran’s nuclear program in this present day is not composed of nuclear weaponry, rather with just nuclear energy. The idea of having nuclear facilities and weaponry were introduced by the Shah and his government, but now after the Islamic revolution in Iran, the country highlights the advantages that nuclear energy has to offer to its people and uses those advantages in contrast to the disadvantages such as the arms produced from nuclear energy.

American Newscasters Dissemination of Information

The American media is owned by corporate owners. For instance, CNN, CBS, A&E, etc… are news broadcasting stations owned by Time Warner Inc. Now, the dissemination of information is dependent upon the passing done by these corporate owners. Meaning that any information chosen to be revealed to the public viewers must be careful to not subdue or damage the belief systems of the corporation. Thus, the news given to the public is generated from a more biased perspective than what is expected due to the control set upon the media.

This mind set leads to the provincial perspectives developed by the viewers of these news stations, which is based upon the interpretations absorbed from the media. In the case of Iran’s nuclear program, the US media remains on the one-sided view, which is “Iran is seeking nuclear weaponry” (Larry King). This view has become the foundation of the American feeling and thinking towards the activities that go on in Iran. The threat of Iran possessing nuclear weaponry has aroused the concept and feeling of threat towards the American people.

Some news stations say that it even arouses feelings internationally. For instance, in the interview between Larry King and President Ahmadinejad, King points out that “All right. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was a guest recently on our program and he said, quote, ““The greatest threat facing humanity.” Humanity. That’s the world. “Is that Iran would acquire nuclear weapons.”” (King, Larry King Live). The emphasis of the threat of security towards “humanity” is the method of exaggeration that is placed before the public. The hyperbole flows into the dissemination of news from stations in the daily lives of the US public. The corporate owners fuel the Iran acting as a threat idea into their news stations.

During the CBS interview between Mike Wallace and President Ahmadinejad, it becomes self-evident the methods implemented to have the American way stay true to America itself. The faults of the interview by Wallace depict out the hastiness that Wallace moves into when asking questions. For example, during his inquiries, when Wallace asked the question, “Do you have the least desire to resume relations with the United States?” the President replied by asking, “Who cut the relations, I ask you?” which ended with Wallace abruptly stating, “That’s not the point. Would you, the president of Iran, like to resume relationships with the United States?” (Wallace, CBS 60 min). This part of the interview as well as many others serve to illustrate the US media’s willingness to retract away from their own faults in the causes of conflicts or in this case, a separation from Iran and dive into the so called faults made by Iran. The US media, in general, during interviews, news broadcasts, and other forms of delivering the news target the Iranian nuclear program so as to mention the facts according to them, the US media. However, it fails to recognize the reality of the situation, meaning the facts according to Iran.

The Facts According to Iran

The most common of all accusations made by the US media against Iran’s nuclear program is that Iran is developing nuclear weaponry at a level where they have produced the bomb. This accusation is wrong, evidence from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reveals that the numerous reports sent from the inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities state that there is no development of nuclear weaponry within their nuclear plants and yet, the US media as well as the US government officials fail to regard that fact and keep on emphasizing the security issues that originate from Iran’s nuclear program when really there is no issue whatsoever. The media proceeds with creating its own points rather than examining the main situation.

Moving on into this creation of accusations comes the implied message of Iran being a threat to the security of the world. Now once it is connected to the nuclear weaponry accusation, there comes the news from the media to the public; when according to Iran, the use of the nuclear facilities is to obtain nuclear energy which would be utilized for other purposes than that of nuclear weaponry. President Ahmadinejad confirms this claim by stating, “We are not seeking the bomb. We have no interest in it. And we do not think that it is useful.” (Ahmadinejad, Larry King Live). The President of Iran only wishes to obtain nuclear fuel from their nuclear facilities according to his interviews done in the US.

Along with the accusations made to Iran, there was the mentioning of packages and agreements that would vary or exchange Iran’s nuclear program for other resources such as uranium. For instance, there was the European incentive package that offered Iran an enrichment of uranium in exchange for the cease of the productions made by the nuclear program. These packages were taken into consideration by President Ahmadinejad and were studied. The media stated that they had simply rejected the packages immediately thus, displaying Iran as being hasty and not interested in being part of the negotiations. There has been a great many emphases upon Iran’s activities; however, the truth stands to always reveal the reality of the problem to the world.

Anti-Iranian Sentiment and US and Iran Deteriorating Relationship

“So these types of activities, bringing up new allegations, coming up with the stories for incidents that happened ten years ago, and creating a situation [that] trying to make Iran look bad in the international scene, is actually making the US government look unsubstantiated.” (Izadi, Press TV). This statement made by Foad Izadi, a professor at the University of Tehran, describes the US media’s constant actions in creating different situations. The creation of situations, thus displays, an unprofessional image about the US government. Also those conjurations affect the US public as well by fueling the anti- Iranian sentiment felt in the US.

These sentiments have spread throughout the US as a whole. Due to the fact that the US fails to regard and reveal the true facts of Iran; the people of America itself have grown to be against Iran. The media have presented facts such as Iran does not support human rights, the Iranian government commits injustice toward its own people, the people do not support President Ahmadinejad, etc… the sentiment has also been mainly developed due to the allegations posed against Iran’s nuclear program.

Firstly with regards to the human rights, President Ahmadinejad stated in response to Larry King’s accusation during their interview that, “Allow me — in Iran, nobody is in prison because of participating in protests. Nobody went to prison because of participating in protests. Protests are free.” (Ahmadinejad, Larry King Live). The statement conveys the support for human rights in Iran. When moving on into the injustice in Iran and the lack of support for the President of Iran, the status of Iran’s people today is very moderate and full of liberty in itself and is thus a democracy. Also their support for President Ahmadinejad becomes self- evident in the election campaigns that occurred in the 2009, where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been leading the polls and won 63.62 percent of the votes (Iranhrdc.org).

In response to the growing anger against the nuclear program, the President as well as the IAEA organization has confirmed that the nuclear facilities in Iran “are not seeking the bomb” (Ahmadinejad, Larry King Live).

Regardless of the true facts, the media compacts the news with dense information that further angers the public toward Iran. The news broadcasted through magazines and newspapers have frequently shown the US governments or more importantly the US presidents’ disapproval upon Iran which even more engorges the anti- Iranian feel amongst the American public. Consequently, the anti- Iranian sentiment has been gradually deteriorating the relationship between the US and Iran thus resulting with opposition between both the US and Iran.

Due to the information given to America’s audience, there has been a negative impact on the foreign policies presented by the United States for that “The people of this nation are the ones that can help shape the policies of the most powerful nation, thereby affecting many events around the world.” (Shah, Media in the United States). The main idea of news is to provide an outlook from all sides of the events occurring in order for a well developed view to be created; yet the views that are being shaped in the US create the negative outlook suggested by the quotation presented.

With the decomposition of relations between the US and Iran, there has been an increase of tensions. Those tensions felt by the US are conveyed throughout the news. Now that the US is against Iran and Iran is also against the US, the media of the United States validates the tension with their creations of accusations. Meaning, due to the existing tensions present, the interpretation of the news from the media confirms the media position as well as the public’s stance when creating the anger about the crises in Iran.

From the structure of the American media to the dissemination of information ending with the anti-Iranian sentiment that revolves mostly around Iran’s nuclear program, arrives a main concept. The concept in which many factors affect the perception or views of the public by either clouding or expanding the public’s view; in the case of the US media and how its public responds to the broadcasting of news about Iran’s nuclear program the perceptions become provincial. This is due to the fact that the US media lacks in its broadcasting of international events and disregards the true facts behind those events once they are interpreted to the public.



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Press TV

Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news network owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Its headquarters are located in Tehran, Iran. Press TV carries news analysis, documentary talk shows and sports news worldwide with special focus on West Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

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