Home / News / Think Tank-Addicted Media Turn to Regime Change Enthusiasts for Iran Protest Commentary

Think Tank-Addicted Media Turn to Regime Change Enthusiasts for Iran Protest Commentary


Photo Credit: Center for American Progress / Flickr


Since the conflict of mass demonstrations and disturbance in Iran last week, US media have mostly busied themselves with the doubt of not if we should “do something,” but what, exactly, that something should be. As usual, it’s simply taken for postulated the United States has a boundless right to meddle in the affairs of Iran, under the deceptive sweeping of “human rights” and “democracy promotion.” (The singular exception, such as an op-ed by ex-Obama central Philip Gordon—New York Times, 12/30/17—still supposed the grounds of regime change: “I, too, wish to see the supervision in Tehran weakened, moderated or even removed.”) With this adage resolutely determined in Very Serious unfamiliar policy circles, the next doubt becomes the nature, grade and range of the “something” being done.

Leading the container in the “do something” insta-consensus was the worried pro-Israel consider tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has impressed the narrative. In the past 5 days, FDD has had op-eds in successful US outlets like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Post and Politico, and has been quoted in a dozen more. Its punditry was remarkable by asocial “support” for Iranian protesters, demagoguing of the Iranian “regime” and offend with the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), differently famous as the Iran deal.

The scrapping of JCPOA has been the primary domestic charge of FDD for years, and it seems to see the new disturbance in Iran—and any successive crackdown—as the skinny dignified stratagem it needs to transparent snuffing out a covenant it’s prolonged opposed. Thus FDD has energetically jumped on the unrest, portrayal itself as the whine of the oppressed.

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Op-eds created or co-written by FDD staff in the past 5 days:

  • “Iran’s Theocracy Is on the Brink” (Mark Dubowitz/Ray Takeyh, Wall Street Journal, 1/1/18)
  • “Where We Can Agree on Iran” (Mark Dubowitz/Daniel Shapiro, Politico, 1/1/18)
  • “Eruption in Iran: And It’s Not Just the Economy, Stupid” (Clifford D. May, Washington Times, 1/2/18)
  • “The Worst Thing for Iran’s Protesters? US Silence” (Reuehl Marc Gerecht, New York Times, 1/2/18)
  • “What Washington Can Do to Support Iran’s Protesters” (Richard Goldberg/Jamie Fly, New York Post, 1/2/18)

A sampling of quotes by FDD staff in news reporting:

  • “Since Rouhani entered office, he has managed to increase expectations with lofty tongue but has actually finished little to change the reality of life on the belligerent in Iran,” pronounced Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran consultant at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.” (Washington Post, 12/30/17)
  • “‘Western governments should make it transparent that the regime will be held obliged and will compensate a cost for any bloodshed,’ Mr. Dubowitz said.” (Wall Street Journal, 1/1/18)
  • “‘[Trump’s] not going to wish to relinquish sanctions and keep income issuing to dictators when there are people protesting in the streets,’ pronounced Richard Goldberg, a former Senate Republican help who helped pattern Iran sanctions and is now a comparison confidant at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” (Politico, 1/2/18)
  • “‘If there is a bipartisan check that is prepared for congressional action, that would go a prolonged way toward persuading the boss to issue the waivers,’ pronounced Mark Dubowitz, the arch executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. ‘If there’s not, what’s happening in Iran will give the boss all the some-more reason to say, “I’ve had it with this deal.”’” (New York Times, 1/2/18)

FDD op-eds and quotes followed a identical formula: demonstrate outrage on interest of the protesters, extol Trump for his hypocritical defense of the right to protest, and pull for increasing sanctions against Iran—often while holding a appropriate at the hated Iran deal.

FDD’s pro-Iranian people viewpoint was frequency accompanied by an reason of their ideological project. The outfit—funded by big-name pro-Israel billionaires like casino noble Sheldon Adelson, Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus (who’s said that “Iran is the devil”) and Wall Street speculator Paul Singer—are  largely presented as bespectacled academics job balls and strikes but a sold bulletin over their self-proclaimed “defense of democracies.” (The name ought to incite some skepticism, given the group’s zeal to enroll the patrimonial persecution Saudi Arabia in its anti-Iranian crusade—LobeLog, 2/26/16.)

This problem is not singular to FDD; as FAIR (8/12/16) has remarkable before, the overreliance by the media on deeply conflicted consider tanks that benefaction as neutral but are, in reality, saved lobbyists for a domestic means or corporate conspirator misleads readers on an institutional scale. (In FDD’s case, it’s Israel’s right wing; for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, it’s weapons contractors—FAIR.org, 5/8/17, 7/17/17.)

FDD, it’s worth noting, also worked closely with the Trump administration and CIA to curate papers implicating Iran in the 9/11 attacks, as partial of a broader anti-Iran strategy that brute DoJ lawyers spelled out in Nov in leaks to the Washington Post (11/17/17; FAIR.org, 11/24/17).

Occasionally, editors will note they are “conservative” or “hawkish,” but FDD is mostly presented as a quasi-academic and just observer. The normal reader, for example, would substantially be astounded to find out the FDD “fellow” expressing regard for The Iranian People™ in the Times, Reuel Marc Gerecht, has prolonged joked about wanting to explosve these same Iranians. As Eli Clinton remarkable in LobeLog (1/4/18), in 2010 Gerecht quipped: “Counted up the other day: I’ve created about 25,000 difference about bombing Iran. Even my mom thinks I’ve left too far.”

Shouldn’t someone so self-admittedly spooky with killing Iranians be unfit from posing as their guardian in a major US newspaper? Failing that, shouldn’t readers be alerted that Gerecht was the executive in the late ’90s of the Middle East Initiative at the Project for the New American Century—the many distinguished advocacy organisation for the advance of Iraq, a fight that left 500,000 to a million dead?

Think tank obsession for busy and mostly astigmatic reporters and editors has rendered such vivid questions unaskable. FDD are the “experts,” and the “experts” are indispensable to drive the bulk of commentary, regardless of their well-documented distant motives.

Adam Johnson is a contributing researcher at FAIR and contributing author for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @AdamJohnsonNYC.



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