Like many, I’ve spent much of the past 72 hours captivated by the unfolding events in Iran. At this hour, it appears a protester has been murdered and violence is beginning to escalate. Although news continues to be sporadic it’s starting to feel as though Ahmadinejad’s thugs have crossed the Rubicon—this image of the murdered demonstrator is already circulating and will undoubtedly feed the cycle of unrest. Various Twitter feeds suggest violence continues to engulf much of Tehran.
However, the most incredible aspect of this episode has been the complete unending of the media hierarchy in its varied response. While Andrew Sullivan, Huffpost and Twitter have remained invaluable sources for real time info, CNN has been AWOL. The NYT’s Lede Blog has, to my mind, remained the only “mainstream” media source keeping up with the ever changing scene on the ground.
Another strange caveat to the media’s coverage that I’ve observed has been the New America Foundation’s apparent interest in validating Ahmadinejad’s purported 63% vote tally. In two separate publications, scholars from the NAF have respectively authored pieces claiming the vote was accurate. Sullivan has also noted this.
I have no idea what to make of this, other than to pose the question: what vested interest would the (generally left of center) New America Foundation possess in Ahmadinejad victory? Are they hoping to provide President Obama with a policy brief that assumes Ahmadinejad won the election? Or is it simply a pride matter—a reluctance to disavow the polling data they accrued before the election suggesting an Ahmadinejad reelection? Maybe it’s nothing–read both pieces and decide for yourself.
At this point, I don’t have much to add to this debate other than my utter fascination—both the events themselves and the media’s subsequent coverage have been equally compelling. Along with Jon, I also highly suggest Spencer Ackerman’s great piece on Obama’s role (or lack thereof) in the matter. More on that later.