Iran picks a new leader to read from the same script.7:01 AM, Jun 17, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
It’s not clear why much of the Western media continues to describe Iran’s newly elected president as a “moderate.” After all, Hassan Rouhani is a regime pillar: As an early follower of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Rouhani joined him in exile in Paris, and over the last 34 years, the 64-year-old Qom-educated cleric has held key positions in the regime’s political echelons, and served in top military jobs during Iran’s decade-long war with Iraq. As Iran’s chief interlocutor with the West on the regime’s nuclear portfolio, Rouhani boasted of deceiving his negotiating partners. Domestically, he has threatened to crush protestors “mercilessly and monumentally,” and likely participated in the campaign of assassinations of the regime’s Iranian enemies at home and abroad, especially in Europe. Currently, Rouhani serves as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative on the supreme national security council.
Aside from the fact that Iran’s English-language television station Press TV calls him a moderate, what exactly, in the eyes of the West, makes him one? After all, former president Muhammad Khatami labeled his public diplomacy campaign a “dialogue of civilizations,” which played right into Western ideas of tolerance and moderation. But Rouhani has nothing similar in his past.
“I think he gets that label because he has been Rafsanjani's factotum,” says former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, another regime pillar and former president of Iran, is typically referred to as a “pragmatist” in the Western press. “Compared to Khamenei's circle, these fellows seem moderate,” says Gerecht. “Rouhani ran their little think tank around which foreign-policy types, the types that Westerners meet, gathered. Also, Rouhani was party to the only temporary ‘freeze’ in Iran's nuke program. Some folks—most notably the EU's Javier Solana—made a lot out of this. They should not have.”
In reality, all Rouhani did was play the U.S. and EU off each other. “From the outset,” Rouhani said in 2006, “the Americans kept telling the Europeans, ‘The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.’ The Europeans used to respond, ‘We trust them.’ … When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Tehran we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site. There was plenty of work to be done to complete the site and finish the work there. In reality, by creating a tame situation, we could finish Isfahan.”
Accordingly, a number of analysts wonder if Rouhani’s election is meant to serve the same purpose now in buying more time for the Iranian nuclear weapons program. With the regime putting a friendly, “moderate” face in front, the West is likely to double down on its efforts to reach the long sought after diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear issue.
As if on cue, the White House responded enthusiastically to Rouhani’s victory and announced that it is prepared, again, to enter direct negotiations. “There’s a great opportunity for Iran,” said White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, “and the people of that storied country, to have the kind of future that they would, I think, justifiably want.”
1:42 PM, May 31, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University is out with a new study on media fact checkers, and unsurprisingly, their results suggest that PolitiFact has it out for Republicans. Dylan Byers at Politico summarized CMPA's findings:
The fact-checking organization PolitiFact has found Republicans to be less trustworthy than Democrats, according to a new study.
Fifty-two percent of Republican claims reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times fact-checking operation were rated "mostly false," “false” or “pants on fire,” versus just 24 percent of Democratic statements, according to George Mason University's Center for Media and Public Affairs. By the same token, 54 percent of Democratic statements were rated as "mostly true" or "true," compared to just 18 percent of Republican statements.
2:24 PM, May 30, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The White House defended Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to invite press to an off-the-record briefing by saying Holder "is interested in having a constructive policy discussion with professional journalists about a subject most people think is a complex policy issue." White House spokesman Josh Earnest added, "We are genuinely interested in the input, the opinion, the advice, the expertise, of leaders of prominent media organizations.
7:40 AM, May 27, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Senator Schumer's off-the-shelf solution to any problem, real or merely perceived, is to form a "gang of eight" that comes up with a bipartisan fix. As Keith Laing reports on the Hill, Schumer appeared onFace the Nation and:
"Our house is on fire."12:09 PM, May 11, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
CBS anchor Scott Pelley said at a speech at Quinnipiac University that journalists "are getting big stories wrong, over and over again."
"Our house is on fire," said Pelley. The video of Pelley's speech is courtesy of nowthisnews.com.
"These have been a bad few months for journalism," he added. "We're getting the big stories wrong, over and over again."
9:09 AM, May 1, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
First Lady Michelle Obama will do a book signing event at a local Washington, D.C. bookstore, the White House announced today. The event, aside from a brief photo-op, will be closed to the press.
8:51 AM, Apr 30, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama will make a rare appearance in the White House press briefing room today where he'll do something even more unusual: take questions from the press.
The White House just announced this scheduling change:
3:06 PM, Apr 17, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
After multiple media outlets (especially CNN) wrongly reported that an arrest had been made in Boston, the FBI is urging media to "exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting."
1:52 PM, Apr 15, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The latest round of Pulitzer Prizes is set to be announced this afternoon, and two things can be said about the eventual winners: Some recipents will be more deserving than others, and there will be an excess of self-congratulation. So this is as good a time as any to point you toward WEEKLY STANDARD editor Philip Terzian's pithy and blunt summation of what's wrong with the Pulitzer Prizes from 2007. Terzian's own experience suggests he's well worth reading on the subject—he's been a finalist for the prestigious award and served on the Pulitzer jury:
Apr 15, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 29 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Even though it’s only April, the New York Times may already have run the most embarrassing correction that will appear in any major newspaper in 2013. In their story on Pope Francis’s first Easter message, no less than the Times’s Vatican reporter informed readers, “Easter is the celebration of the resurrection into heaven of Jesus, three days after he was crucified, the premise for the Christian belief in an everlasting life.”
9:38 AM, Mar 12, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
An anonymous White House aide says that the president reaching out to Republicans is a "joke," a waste of time, and stunt for the media.
As Ron Fournier of National Journal reports:
9:21 AM, Mar 10, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
During remarks last night at the Gridiron Club at a hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., President Obama flattered the press. "[T]he truth is," Obama told the club of journalists, "our country needs you and our democracy needs you."