September 25, 2006
Last week we witnessed Ahmadinejad's theatrical performance in UN lecturing US and rest of the world on peace, justice, freedom of expression and importance of democracy through democratic referendums. When asked about his comments regarding existence of state of Israel he suggested a referendum in what is known as Palestine to decide the faith of the state of Israel.
I listened and read most of the text to Mahmood's interviews with US journalists such as Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, Mike Wallace [Part 1 Part 2], and other network anchors, and I'm sad to say that my 80 year old mother, who could barely read and write, could have done a much better job asking president of Iran more serious and relevant questions.
The predictability and shallow nature of questions not only allowed Mahmood, a son of black smith from rural Iran to toy with the interviewers, but to change the table on them and accuse them of being all part of the US government propaganda machine.
If you did not get it let me repeat it again, Mahmood is accusing the US journalists to be the instruments of US government and lectures them on free press.
If my memory serves me, this is not the first time that US journalists are failing miserably to ask the right questions from a world leader. US Journalists including the so called liberal New York Times failed to ask the right questions from president and congress when Bush administration rushed to war in Iraq and manipulated intelligence, when congress passed war resolution, and also when same congress passed Patriot Act.
Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper and others chose to ask questions that had nothing to do with what goes on in Iran, which is Ahmadinejad's weakest link, and limited their questions to Ahmadinejad's view on Israel, Holocaust and nuclear issue, as if they did not know what his views were and they expected him to repent.
Brian Williams and company lost a great opportunity to chastise Ahmadinejad for the rash of latest beatings and killings of journalists, student activists and union leaders such as Zahra Kazemi (Iranian born Canadian journalist killed in Iranian prison), Akbar Mohamadi (student activists who supposedly died of hunger strike in Iranian prison), members of Shirin Ebadi's women organization who were beaten and arrested, hundreds of bus driver union members and their leaders who were beaten and arrested. American journalist failed to ask why a president that has run on economic reform platform spends more than 30 percent of Iran's total budget on military means and donates more than $300 Million to Hezbollah and Hamas while Iranian economy faces double digit inflation and massive unemployment.
In my disbelief, Brain Williams also turned on the charm and asked Mahmood if he came with his wife and if he likes to go site seeing with his family while in US and if he had a favorite city in US that he wants to visit.
What Brian Williams and other journalists failed to ask Mahmood is how dare he can talk about referendum in Palestine as a means of deciding the future of the state of Israel and Palestinians in Palestine while in Iran people have been jailed or killed even at the suggestion of holding a referendum on Velayat Fagheeh, the most anti democratic principal in Islamic republic, which gives a blanket veto power to a single un-elected clergy over all elected officials.
What Brian Williams and others failed to ask is that how can a country such as Iran with such a terrible aviation record in the past few years could cope with a possible nuclear accident such as the one that happened in Chernobyl.
Brian Williams and friends, I suppose, could have simply picked up the phone and called their fellow Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji (freed Iranian Journalist who spent 6 years in notorious Evin prison and now touring US) and asked him for some help in getting them prepared for the interview with Mahmood. Then again asking all those questions about what Iranian rulers do to the Iranian people is not considered news worthy to the major news networks in the US. Comment