To Counter Iran, We Must Counter Its Propaganda Arms Like ‘Press TV’
by Jonathan A. Greenblatt
The Islamic Republic of Iran remains the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism, antisemitism, and Holocaust denial. Besides threatening the State of Israel with genocide, Tehran and its armed proxies have for decades targeted Israelis, Jewish communities around the world, and Western nationals with indiscriminate terrorist attacks. But the Iranian regime’s murderous aggression doesn’t end there.
Besides mobilizing terrorist proxies like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis, the Iranian regime also invests in traditional and social media to wage information warfare around the world. Hence, Tehran’s long arm abroad includes state-funded propaganda units masquerading as media outlets that push out hate content in multiple languages globally.
To this end, Press TV, founded by a media corporation controlled by the Iranian regime, has amplified not only antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion — while claiming it “respects and values all ethnicities and nationalities and the followers of all religions” — but also hate against other minorities, including women and LGBTQ+ individuals.
As our new report “State Hate” — from ADL and the Center for Countering Digital Hate — shows, we should remain vigilant about the harmful impact that Press TV and other regime outlets have on unsuspecting viewers in the West and around the world. Viewers who stumble upon the systematic hate and disinformation campaigns on Press TV, including those pushed out by well-known antisemites and conspiracy theorists, are at the risk of being pulled into a spiral of lies and incitement.
It is for this reason that the US government’s pushback against the Iranian regime’s nefarious behavior has included sanctions and other measures against Tehran’s propaganda tools. In 2013, the US Treasury Department designated the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and its director for airing forced confessions of political detainees and restricting or denying the free flow of information to or from the Iranian people, especially by jamming Western media networks with Persian-language news.
In 2021, the US government seized 33 websites operated by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU), which itself was sanctioned the year before, for being owned or controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated terrorist organization. The US Department of Justice stated that IRTVU and other outlets affiliated with the Iranian regime were “disguised as news organizations or media outlets” and “targeted the United States with disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations.”
Press TV, which has been similarly targeted by world government and corporate action, and pushed out of networks, web domains, and platforms, continues to utilize various social media platforms to propagate hate and incitement and generate traffic to its website. Putting an end to the Iranian regime’s information warfare requires concerted action not only by international organizations and governments, but also corporations, including social media companies. We are proud to partner with the Center for Countering Digital Hate as part of our ongoing efforts to expose Tehran’s agenda of antisemitic disinformation, hate, and incitement.
Our report, however, is not just an exposé, but also a call to action — a call we hope will not go unanswered.
Jonathan Greenblatt is CEO and National Director of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League).