I never expect much from the U.S. mainstream media, especially when it comes to the Middle East, but still I’ve been genuinely shocked by the sorry coverage of the conflict surrounding Iran’s nuclear program and Netanyahu’s recent speech to Congress.
As other critics have already pointed out, the biggest problem is not so much what the media have been reporting as what they leave out: not just critical perspectives, but also undisputed facts that are essential to understanding the situation. See, for example, “Somebody Needs to Tell The NY Times: Israel Has The Bomb,” by TimesWarp’s Barbara Erickson and “What Was Missing From Coverage of Netanyahu’s Speech” by Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting’s Jim Naureckas.
But for me, beyond the New York Times website, my main exposure to the mainstream media is National Public Radio, and I haven’t seen any detailed analysis of its handling of the Iran nuclear issue. I’ve had the impression that its coverage has been at least as bad as the print media’s, but I don’t listen to all of its news broadcasts, so to be sure to be fair, I’ve spent the last few days burrowing through transcripts of past broadcasts at the NPR website. (The audio archives and transcripts there don’t include the network’s top-of-the-hour headlines, just the regular segments from Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and other NPR-produced shows, but there’s no reason to think the short headlines are much different from what’s archived.)
What I found was even more appalling than I’d anticipated. Not that there’s been a lack of attention – on the contrary, just in the last 30 days (through March 15) the network’s two daily newscasts – Morning Edition and All Things Considered – have a run a total of 23 segments containing both the words “Netanyahu” and “Iran.” But even with all that coverage, here are some of the things NPR hasn’t found time to tell its listeners: