Craptastic media in Iran and U.S.
It’s interesting that the shutdown of media in Iran has produced the belief that this alone is sufficient evidence that the election was stolen. In other words: ‘rigged’ media produces ‘rigged’ elections. I believe in free and fair media, and I believe neither exists in either Iran or the U.S. But the idea that censorship of certain sites (e.g. Facebook filtration) automatically means the election results were falsified is a giant analytical leap. The U.S. practices selective censorship, such as shutting out any candidate not pre-selected by the Democratic or Republican parties, yet you will not hear people claiming that that automatically falsifies election results. The chaotic condition of media (in this case, in Iran and the U.S.) make truly free and fair decisions about governmentality for the most part impossible.
Second point: Iran is in some crucial ways more pluralist than the U.S. and has a far healthier platform of debate despite the government’s disgraceful censorship practices. For one thing, when have four candidates ever been on a U.S. election ballot? Ahmadinejad’s administration doesn’t exactly assuage the view of healthy debate: it has danced the media access dance for years. They yank access of certain sites, but the people thankfully understand this dance and (rightfully) make noise about it until stuff gets reinstated. As mentioned here before, there’s even use of d.o.s. (denial of service) against right-wing and government institutions (citizen hackery is alive and well out there). Many sites are crashing on their own though (prompting liberal U.S. bloggers to instruct their readers to ‘stop crashing Iran’s servers’). My cell phone line in DC crashed for hours when Obama won the U.S. election. The Ministry of Information is not an omnipotent monster unless you consider the impossibility of working in systems with other so-called omnipotent monsters like the U.S. corporate media.
The U.S.’s hegemonic media hold (basically the major XXX acronyms) are craptastic on Iran: the U.S. only knows how to deal with Iran through sanctions, the brutal cold shoulder and designation as Israel’s nemesis. CNNi’s images of the streets on Sunday were actually from Saturday–and they openly admitted it. I mean come on, you’re not a 17-year old with a cell phone and a camera, you are a multi-million dollar corporation actually recycling days-old footage on a working news day? Even progressive channels I like and follow like Democracy Now focused almost entirely on the ‘nuclear problem’ this week instead of hosting a real debate about the struggle to control perceptions.