Accuracy in Media

In the past several weeks, there have been apocalyptic predictions and back-and-forths between Democrats and Republicans on whether the United States was right to order the drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassam Soleimani.

The Democratic Party has largely agreed that the drone strike was illegally conducted on an ally’s soil, circumvented congressional authority and escalated tensions between the two countries to the brink of World War Three. 

The Republican Party defended the drone strike, and in the process, identified Soleimani as the chief architect behind more than 600 American casualties in the Middle East.

Amid escalating tensions last week, a Ukrainian Airlines commercial airliner mysteriously crashed in Tehran. After three days of blaming the airliner and its crew, the Iranian government admitted that its military shot an anti-aircraft missile at the commercial airliner, killing all 176 aboard. 

Protests ensued after the Iranian government apologized for the fatal error, with one video showing demonstrators condemning Iran’s theocratic dictatorship.

Within a day, Trump tweeted his support for the protests in English and Persian. 

One tweet said, “To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.”

To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2020

Another tweet read, “The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people. There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching.”

The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people. There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2020

A third tweet from Trump read, “To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!”

To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2020

Trump’s public support of the Iranian protests were much quicker than his predecessor, President Barack Obama. Trump tweeted the aforementioned statements within a day of the protest hitting the news cycle.

In 2009, there was a disputed election result in which the incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, won re-election. 

In 2009, the re-election of incumbent Iranian president Mahmoud Amadinejad was disputed

Supporters of his opponent, Mir Hossein Moussavi, took to the streets for several days to protest the results.. 

Obama made a public statement in support of the protests three days after the results were announced. However, his statement left the responsibility with the Iranian government and the protesters, and in part, said, “[W]e respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.”

The statement was supportive of the protests but did not outline consequences should the Iranian government repress the protests. 

Compared to Trump’s response, Obama absolved the United States from taking the moral high ground on the protests.

When Obama was later asked why he delayed his statement on the Green Revolution (as the 2009 protests came to be known), Obama said, “Because I think that we don’t know yet how this thing is going to play out. I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I’m not.”

The mainstream media ignored the contrasting statements between Trump and Obama when it came to Iranian protests. The media offered fact-checks, like this one from CNN, and media coverage that excused Obama for his delayed response to the Iranian government’s violent response to the protests. 

No such favorable coverage has emerged from the media during the Trump-Iran news cycle.

This is yet another example of anti-Trump media bias in the mainstream media, which has contributed to the growing mistrust of the American people in the media.

 




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