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US mainstream media is contributing to rising risk of war with Iran

Media Analysis
on 15 Comments

The U.S. mainstream press and television networks are committing media malpractice and contributing to the rising risk of an American war with Iran. 

* The cable TV networks are almost completely ignoring the Trump administration’s threatening moves, which could end in either a violent accident or a deliberate attack by Israel, America, or both. Instead, CNN and MSNBC continue covering Russiagate, ad nauseum. 

* U.S. print media is also mostly ignoring the story, except to take dictation from Pentagon sources without doing independent reporting.

* The pundits, with one exception, are also still silent.

* The minimal coverage continues to leave out Israel, even though anyone who has followed the region knows that Benjamin Netanyahu has instigated the U.S. to attack Iran for the past decade, and he even addressed the U.S. Congress in 2015 to try and sabotage the now-dead Iran nuclear deal.

* Not everyone is as incompetent as the U.S. mainstream. The Economist, the British conservative publication, put the threat of war in Iran on its cover this week, and warns editorially that “America’s accusations that Iran has been planning to attack American forces or its allies in the Middle East are suspiciously unspecific.”  

How the New York Times is covering US-Iran relations . . .

How the New York Times is covering US-Iran relations . . .

Today’s New York Times news report is a disgrace to the journalism profession. The bias shines right through in the headline: “Pentagon Builds Deterrent Force Against Possible Attack from Iran.” It would be considerably more accurate to say, “U.S. Escalates Its Already Massive Military Presence Surrounding Iran, Intending to Provoke an Iranian Attack.” The Times report is sourced to anonymous “American and allied spy services.”  (Why the paper doesn’t say “Israeli” instead of “allied” is an interesting question.) The article continues with vague anonymous innuendo suggesting Iran is “encouraging attacks by Iranian-backed terrorist groups on American forces and bases in the Middle East.” “A Pentagon official” also said the U.S. has detected that Iran is carrying out “anomalous naval activity” in the area.

One phrase in the Times article inadvertently gives away the whole fraud: “. . . the United States developed new information last weekend. . . ”  

. . . and how the Economist is covering it.

. . . and how the Economist is covering it.

No Iranian officials are interviewed. The Times did not consult any of the established experts on Iran: no Trita Parsi, no Flynt or Hillary Mann Leverett, no Barbara Slavin. Trump’s bellicose national security adviser John Bolton, who still thinks the 2003 Iraq invasion was a good idea, could have written the Times article himself. (The Economist — not the American media — pointed out that in 2015 Bolton published an Op-Ed piece in the Times entitled, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”)

And where are the U.S. opinion writers? So far, silence — with the single exception of David Ignatius in the Washington Post, and his column gave too much credence to “U.S. officials” and failed to mention the Israel angle. Why are Thomas Friedman, Jeffrey Goldberg and the other discredited cheerleaders for the 2003 invasion of Iraq not saying anything? 

What’s more, as The Economist points out, even if the U.S. is just saber-rattling and has no plan to attack, the risk of a dangerous accident is on the rise. So far, no one in the U.S. media has reminded Americans about the tragedy on July 3, 1988, when the USS Vincennes, a warship in the Persian Gulf, by mistake shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, (which was in Iranian airspace) killing all 290 people on board, including 66 children. The consequences of another such accident could be catastrophic.  

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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15 Responses

  1. Kay24 on May 11, 2019, 5:08 pm

    No surprise at all. The US media helped the Bush administration sell the Iraq war, and was also used by Dick Cheney for fear mongering, so why should we expect any different?

    No thanks to the lunatic in the WH, we may be in a very precarious situation, maybe on the brink of war with N. Korea, or Iran, all it takes is a false flag situation (especially by our greatest “ally” in the ME), or some overreaction by someone, for us to be in yet another bloody war.
    It seems the MSM is quite cool about it.

    • Jett Rucker on May 19, 2019, 10:55 pm

      It’s nothing William Randolph Hearst didn’t do – and for the same reasons: to stimulate circulation.

  2. Citizen on May 12, 2019, 6:41 am

    You need to go to alternate media to even know Bolton & Adelson types are doing all they can to get the US to attack Iran. Here’s an example of what mainstream media is not saying: US And Israel Are Manufacturing An Iran War & US Actions In Venezuela Ar… via @YouTube

    • Citizen on May 12, 2019, 7:00 am

      A few are examples of excellent coverage and analysis on such issues:, Moon Over Alabama, Jimmy Dore Show, Consortium News…

    • Kay24 on May 20, 2019, 2:44 pm

      At Bolton’s advice apparently, Trump had tried to topple the Venezuelan leader, but now that they failed miserably, he turns to Iran. He is a tool being used by war mongers like Bolton, Netanyahu, and Bin Salman.

  3. CigarGod on May 12, 2019, 11:14 am

    Curious as the why Jon Huntsnan, Jr., Ambassador of the United States to Russia, is on the bridge of an aircraft carrier (your headline photo).

  4. Misterioso on May 13, 2019, 9:15 am

    Cause for optimism? (Much to Adelson and Netanyahu’s chagrin.)

    Al Jazeera, May 12/19

    ‘Psychological war’

    “William Fallon, former commander of the US Central Command, told Al Jazeera he did not expect the situation between Iran and the US to escalate despite ‘the media hype.’

    “Fallon said tensions between Tehran and Washington had been ongoing for decades and he saw no serious outcome despite the recent heated rhetoric from both sides.

    “‘Ridiculous reporting’ was exaggerating the situation in the Gulf when in fact it was the same scenario militarily as it had been for years between the archrivals, he noted.

    “‘The US has been coming in and out of the Gulf for decades and is committed to open, clear and free passage of ships in the Gulf,’ said Fallon.

    “Iran’s parliament held a closed session on Sunday to discuss the developments in the Gulf.

    “Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, who heads the influential parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told the official IRNA news agency Iran wasn’t looking to deepen the crisis.

    “He said the US position would weaken with time, and there were currently no grounds for negotiations with Washington.

    “Major-General Hossein Salami, appointed head of the Revolutionary Guard last month, told parliament the United States had started a psychological war.

    “‘Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter,’ his spokesman Behrouz Nemati said.”

    Bottom line? – Neither side would “win” a war in the Strait of Hormuz.

    • Kay24 on May 20, 2019, 2:48 pm

      It makes me wonder why the EU nations and others, are extremely quiet about this development. Surely they should speak up and against the Trump/Bolton/Netanyahu/Bin Salman plan to kill civilians. Trump will soon join the ranks of criminals responsible for killing civilians, like the others are.

  5. James Canning on May 13, 2019, 10:45 am

    Bravo. US news sources repress the story of Netanyahu’s efforts to bring yet another catastrophe to the Middle East, at fantastic cost to the American people. How many trillions of dollars did his idiotic invasion of Iraq cost the US?

    • Misterioso on May 13, 2019, 4:24 pm

      @James Canning, et al


      “EU supports Iran nuclear deal, wants to avoid further escalation” Arab News, May 13/19

      BRUSSELS: “The European Union fully supports the international nuclear accord with Iran and wants rival powers to avoid any further escalation over the issue, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday.

      “’We will continue to support it as much as we can with all our instruments and all our political will,’ Mogherini told reporters before a meeting with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, who are signatories to the deal.

      “Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt also warned of the risks of an unintended conflict between the US and Iran over the unraveling nuclear deal. ‘We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended,’ Hunt told reporters in Brussels, adding that it was crucial not to put Iran back on the path of re-nuclearisation.

      “United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also expected to meet EU officials in Brussels on Monday to talk about Iran. Mogherini said she was informed during the night of Pompeo’s arrival to Brussels where EU foreign ministers are gathered for a regular monthly meeting.

      “‘We will be here all day with a busy agenda. So we will see during the day how and if will manage to arrange a meeting. He’s always welcome obviously, but there are no precise plans at the moment,’ Mogherini said.

      “Pompeo is on his way to the Black Sea resort of Sochi where he plans to meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday to discuss Iran.

      “European countries said last week they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected ‘ultimatums’ from Tehran, after Iran relaxed restrictions on its nuclear program and threatened moves that might breach the 2015 international pact.

      “’We in Europe agree that this treaty is necessary for our security,’ German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels. ‘Nobody wants Iran to get possession of an atomic bomb and that’s been achieved so far.’

      “Iran’s move was in response to US sanctions imposed following Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the accord with Tehran a year ago.”

  6. genesto on May 13, 2019, 4:20 pm

    Very good article, except for one correction. Israel has been rallying for us to attack Iran FOR AT LEAST 25 YEARS, since early in the Clinton administration. I know, I’ve been following this as closely as someone on the outside of the deep state possibly can!

    Up until now, it’s been the generals who have seen the madness in this – including, at least in the past, some Israeli generals as well – and have resisted the pressure. But you have to wonder how much the Israel lobby and its agents have infiltrated our military too!

    Anyone who follows the geopolitical situation and doesn’t see how sinister has become the lobby’s influence on our Middle East policy is choosing to remain willfully ignorant at this point. I guess that includes practically all of the mainstream media!

    • RoHa on May 14, 2019, 7:37 am

      “Israel has been rallying for us to attack Iran FOR AT LEAST 25 YEARS,”

      And Iran has been just a few months from producing a nuclear bomb in every one of those 25 years!

      • genesto on May 14, 2019, 6:40 pm

        Right! Bibi’s very sophisticated visual aid (at the UN?) a few years ago made that crystal clear!!

      • Kay24 on May 20, 2019, 2:51 pm

        Exactly what Bibi said when he held up that cartoon bomb at the UN. Now that Trump has ripped apart the nuclear deal, who can blame Iran, who has been keeping to it’s side of the deal, for wanting to start their program again?

  7. Stephen Shenfield on May 14, 2019, 5:52 pm

    Why has the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier been deployed to the Persian Gulf?

    According to Russia Today, Amirali Hajiadeh, head of the aerospace division of the Revolutionary Guard, told the Iranian Students’ News Agency: “An aircraft carrier that has at least 40–50 planes and 6,000 troops on it was a serious threat to us in the past. But now the threats have changed to opportunities.” He noted that Iranian missiles can now easily target aircraft carriers up to 700 kilometers away.

    Has this threatening statement been reported in the US media?

    I suspect that the aircraft carrier was sent to the Gulf with the deliberate intention that it should be struck and sunk by Iranian missiles, in order to create a sensation sufficient to arouse the US public to enthusiasm for war with Iran.

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