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January 8, 2018 5:03 pm

New York Times Editorial Board Falls Suspiciously Silent on Iran Protests

avatar by Ira Stoll

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People protest in Tehran, Iran, Dec. 30, 2017, in in this picture obtained from social media. Photo: Reuters.

Since the protests against the Iranian dictatorship broke out on December 28, 2017, America’s leading newspapers have weighed in with editorials voicing their institutional support — except for The New York Times, which has been strangely silent.

USA Today had an editorial: “The bravery of Iranians standing up to their repressive regime is breathtaking.”

The Wall Street Journal had an editorial: “The world should support this fight for freedom, which is exposing the illusions about Iran that dominated the Obama Administration.”

The New York Post had an editorial: “Iranians are sick of seeing their money funneled to the likes of Syria’s bloody Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah.”

The New York Daily News had an editorial:

By the tens of thousands across a country mislabeled the Islamic Republic, Iranians are standing up against a regime that suffocates their freedoms and squanders their treasure to finance terrorism.

They are being met with brutal force; as of press time, 20 protesters were reported dead across the country; 450 were jailed in the capital alone.

All Americans should stand with women and men who seek to shake off the shackles of repression and steer their nation toward a more open, prosperous and democratic future.

The Washington Post had an editorial: “The popular demand for change is justified and deserves international support…Now is the time for Mr. Trump to focus on supporting the people of Iran.”

The New York Times, unlike the other papers, has studiously avoided the topic. It ran some opinion columns, sure. But the institutional voice of the newspaper that sounds from the unsigned editorial column has been silent.

Here is a list of the other topics the Times has chosen to editorialize about instead of the Iran protests in the time since they began:

  • US police tactics
  • The war in Yemen
  • Racism in France
  • Judicial independence in Poland
  • The size of the staff of the Internal Revenue Service
  • Capital punishment (in the US, not Iran)
  • The second term of New York mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Voter laws in Florida
  • State responses to federal tax law changes
  • Tensions between North and South Korea
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s state of the state address
  • President Trump’s vote-fraud inquiry
  • Admission fees at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The “two-state solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict
  • Pakistan
  • Land mines
  • The New York City subway
  • “Jeff Sessions’s Endless War on Marijuana”

Doubtless these are all burning and timely issues on which Times readers are running out to their doorsteps every morning and tearing open their blue plastic bags to discover the positions of Times editorial writers.

But it’s just outright weird that, during a period in which the Iran protests were front-page news in the Times newspaper and a regular topic for its columnists, the editorial column stuck to a suspicions silence.

It’s this sort of thing that feeds suspicions that the newspaper’s journalism is somehow compromised by the Times Company’s lucrative business running luxury tours of Iran guided by Times journalists, or by the fact that the Times Company’s largest economic owner, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, owns Telekom Austria in partnership with OBIB, Austria’s sovereign wealth fund, which is also a huge player in developing Iran’s oil and gas business.

Maybe the Times editorial board members just can’t reach a consensus on the issue, or newly installed publisher A.G. Sulzberger is too busy familiarizing himself with the First Amendment to offer the editorial board some direction. Maybe they are all on an extended winter vacation, or working hard on their Pulitzer Prize entries, for which the annual deadline is approaching.

Whatever the reason, it’s a sad day for freedom when the brave Iranians standing up to a brutal terror-sponsoring regime can’t count on the timely or energetic editorial support of The New York Times. When freedom finally does come to Iran and the prisoners do emerge to say their thank yous, they will have plenty of other newspaper offices to visit.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

 

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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