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"Double Standard" in Media Coverage of Iran Seen by Prof. Kevin Howley

June 28, 2009

Kevin Howley 2008 hs.jpgJune 28, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — "If there is an upside to news of Michael Jackson's sudden and unexpected death it is this: wall-to-wall press coverage of the pop star's passing has put the brakes on Western media's propaganda campaign over street protests in Iran -- at least for the time being," writes Kevin Howley in this week's Bloomington Alternative. In the view of the associate professor of communication at DePauw University, "For the better part of two weeks, U.S. and U.K. news outlets have been spinning the disputed outcome of recent Iranian elections in a manner that supports the strategic aims of Washington, London and Tel Aviv: to discredit the Iranian leadership and legitimate calls for 'regime change' in Tehran."

Dr. Howley adds, "While images of the Iranian people demanding greater transparency and accountability from their government are undeniably moving, if not downright inspiring, press coverage of these spontaneous expressions of democracy reveal the double standards of both the political and media establishment."

The professor notes, "For years, the United Iran Flag.gifStates has supported authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia that suppress oppositional movements through violence, intimidation and detention. Likewise, the United States routinely provides political cover and military support for Israeli aggression directed at Palestinians in the Occupied Territories ... Following an all-too-familiar pattern, press reaction to the Iranian political crisis is self-serving and ahistorical. For all of their nonstop coverage, few Western news outlets acknowledge decades of U.S. meddling in Iran; let alone consider how current policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan may further destabilize the region. Fewer still concede that U.S.-led efforts to isolate Iran -- through sanctions, propaganda campaigns and covert actions -- have been counterproductive, serving only to strengthen the hand of the most repressive elements within Iran."

The author of the book Community Media: People, Places, and Communication Technologies sees similarities between the media's coverage of Iraq before the U.S. launched war against the regime of Saddam Hussein and the way outlets have reported recent events in Iran. "The logic behind such a double standard is easy to see," opines Dr. Howley. "The establishment press has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Political dissent andhowley community media.jpg popular uprisings that challenge the established order would only benefit from fair, accurate and sustained press coverage. Media blackouts are part of a broader strategy to undermine the reach and legitimacy of progressive social movements."

Howley's column concludes, "For corporations -- including the media industries themselves, some of the most powerful corporations on the planet -- and the political elite that protect and defend their interests, movements working for social and economic justice have no place on the evening news -- unless of course they fit into a narrative that puts (corporate) America's interest first.

You'll find the complete essay at College News.org.

Two weeks ago, Kevin Howley examined media coverage of the health care debate. Learn more in this story.

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