Iran's Press TV's useful Western idiots

Dominic Lawson at The Times of London has a good piece about Press TV, Iran’s government-backed international English-language news network, and the Western reporters, or stooges, as he – I believe accurately – describes them, who work for it.

For those unfamiliar with Press TV, it’s essentially a propaganda arm of the Iranian foreign ministry. Reports rarely stray from the official government line. When it finally got around to reporting on the unrest following Iran’s rigged election, and the murder – almost certainly by Iranian security forces – of Neda Aqa Soltan, whose death, when captured on film, became a symbol of Iran’s reform movement, Press TV quoted Iranian police who described her killing as a premeditated stunt designed to make the Iranian government look bad. Another report suggested the CIA might have been responsible.

Press TV invited me to appear on a panel discussion about reporting in the Middle East a few days after in launched two summers ago. When the host, Shahab Mossovat, asked me what I felt was the biggest challenge faced by reporters in the region, I answered with what I think is the obvious response: the lack of freedom, particularly in places like Iran, where Canadian reporter Zahra Kazemi was imprisoned, raped, and murdered, and where Canadian reporter Maziar Bahari remains in custody after a televised confession was extracted from him. The host, to his credit, let me bang on for longer than I expected, before interrupting to describe my comments as “offensive” to Iran and predictably demanding: “What about Israel?”

I haven’t been invited back on Press TV and was not paid for my appearance. Other Canadians, however, are. Press TV’s current correspondent in Canada is Zahra Jamal, based in Vancouver. I can’t think of any reason why a real journalist would work for the mouthpiece of a regime that imprisons and murders her journalistic colleagues in Iran, but if Jamal has one, I’d invite her to post it below

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