Accuracy in Media

In the aftermath of the downing of the Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752, the Iranian government is reeling as it deals with anti-government protests.

For three days, the Iranian government blamed the aircraft’s flight crew and mechanical errors for the disaster and denied that the Iranian military mistakenly shot down the aircraft. Western intelligence agencies, including the U.S., said that an Iranian surface-to-air missile destroyed the plane. The Iranian government later apologized for the error and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blamed “U.S. adventurism” for causing the “human error.”

Protesters took to the streets for several days and the protests made international news, with protesters allegedly chanted slogans such as, “Death to the dictator,” and “Khamenei have shame, leave the country.” President Donald Trump tweeted support for the protesters in English and in Persian, warning the Iranian government to not interfere or repress the protests.

NowThis News published an article on the protests, headlined, “Massive Protests Against Iranian Regime Continue for Third Day,” but their article included a false narrative. The website placed the blame squarely on the United States drone strike which killed Iranian general Qassam Soleimani. NowThis News wrote that the protests were a response to the lethal drone strike, “which was followed by retaliatory missile strikes by Iran on Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops, and, thereafter, the shooting down of the Ukraine International Airlines flight.”

Based on how it was written, it inferred that the anti-government protests in Iran were a direct response to the U.S. drone strike. However, it was the downing of the commercial aircraft that caused the protests.

NowThis News should have said was that the protests stemmed from the downing of the commercial aircraft, which happened in light of escalating tensions between Iran and the United States. It could then add that tensions escalated after the United States conducted a lethal drone strike that killed Soleimani.

Instead, NowThis News wrote a poorly-worded sentence that blamed the United States for the protests and the death of 176 people aboard the commercial aircraft. It created the narrative that the United States was to blame when the facts demonstrate that this narrative was false and incorrect.

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