By: Kenneth Timmerman
Accuracy in Media
This is a special report from the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism
The Iranian regime’s English language propaganda channel, PressTV, has discovered a new American idol: presidential contender Rep. Ron Paul.
PressTV has stepped up its coverage of Paul’s campaign to win the Republican presidential nomination in recent weeks, featuring his anti-Israel rants, his claim that sanctions against Iran are “acts of war,” his approval of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and much more.
The Iranian government channel portrays Ron Paul as an American hero, and brings on conspiracy theorists masquerading as political “analysts” to laud him for “challenging the American establishment” and the “corporate neo-conservative Zionist consensus,” that cabal of Jews, banksters, and Reagan Democrats who in Tehran’s eyes (and in the eyes of these Ron Paul supporters) run the world.
It’s a script taken almost word-for-word from the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Headlining one montage of Ron Paul sound bites denouncing U.S. support for Israel, PressTV reveals that President Obama has issued a “Ron Paul ‘kill order.’”
This dramatic claim was “revealed” in a “secret letter sent to Prime Minister Putin by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda” released to the press by the Russian Federal Security Service, better known during Cold War days for wanton fabrications and disinformation campaigns.
The purported letter “contains a warning that United States President Barack Obama has issued an executive-level ‘kill order’ against U.S. Congressman Ron Paul over fears this charismatic politician, who many believe could capture the Republican Presidential 2012 nomination, is about to expose to all Americans what can only be described as the largest mass theft in human history,” PressTV breathlessly explains.
Of course, “‘kill order’ is a metaphor for silencing down Congressman Ron Paul in the mass media as if he doesn’t exist,” the network hastens to add.
No contemporary U.S. political leader has been so in sync with Tehran as Ron Paul. Here are just a few of the recent Ron Paul sound bites on Iran and U.S. policy toward Iran prominently featured by PressTV:
“Just think of how many nuclear weapons surround Iran. The Chinese are there, the Indians are there, the Pakistanis are there, the Israelis are there, the United States is there. All these countries—China has nuclear weapons! Wouldn’t it be natural that they might want a weapon? Internationally, they’d be given more respect… They have no evidence that they are working on a weapon. “Paul blasts US policy on Iran, Aug. 12, 2011.
“I think we’re looking for trouble because we put these horrendous sanctions on Iran… Sanctions against Iran are definite steps toward a US attack.” “Iran sanctions ‘acts of war’: Ron Paul,” Dec. 31, 2011; “Ron Paul raps US hostility toward Iran,” Jan. 7, 2012.
“Iran’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had never mentioned any intention of wiping Israel off the map.” Quick Facts: Ron Paul on US Foreign Policy, Dec. 24, 2011.
“Iran is not a physical threat to us. They do not have capabilities. The stories you might hear about them being on the verge of a nuclear weapon is not true by our CIA and by the United Nations. They are not on the verge of it.” Quick Facts: Ron Paul on US Foreign Policy, Dec. 24, 2011.
“Who are they [Iran] going to bomb? If they had one or two bombs, they are going to bomb Israel? Israel has 300 of them! And our submarines all around there passing and everything else.” Quick Facts: Ron Paul on US Foreign Policy, Dec. 24, 2011.
“I think they’re acting in self-defense… That is a gross distortion of this debate that they’re on the verge of a nuclear weapon.” Ron Paul defends his anti-war policies, Dec. 16, 2011
“At least our leaders and Reagan talked to the Soviets. What is so terribly bad about this? Countries you put sanctions on, you are more likely to fight them. I say a policy of peace is free trade, stay out of their internal business. Do not get involved in these wars and bring our troops home.” Ron Paul blasts US policy on Iran, Aug. 12, 2011
A Google search of PressTV.com—their U.S. website—returned 349 stories about Ron Paul, the overwhelming majority of them from this past year. The network’s Iranian website, PressTV.ir, had more than 1,020 stories featuring Ron Paul.
A similar search of the U.S. website revealed significantly lower numbers for the other GOP candidates, with 242 hits for Mitt Romney, 211 for Newt Gingrich, 119 for Rick Santorum, 103 for Rick Perry, and 95 for Michele Bachmann.
By comparison, a Google search of “Hitler” got 509 hits on PressTV.com, while a search for “Barack Obama” got 3,600.
PressTV’s passion for Ron Paul also can be seen in their choice of headlines.
Iowa voters bring anti-war message into the mainstream
This last entry publicizes a robo-call survey by Democratic Party polling outfit Public Policy Polling, which touts its “highly accurate polling across the country” on its website. Of course, that particular poll, conducted just days before the Iowa caucuses, was dramatically off, given that Ron Paul placed third after Romney and Santorum essentially tied for first.
By comparison, PressTV coverage of Newt Gingrich is almost exclusively negative, with headlines such as these:
Most of the other GOP candidates are given the Gingrich treatment by PressTV editors. Rick Santorum gets blasted for declaring “there is no Palestine,” Michele Bachmann for saying she would “bomb Iran,” and Perry for just about everything, most recently his debate pledge to “reinvade Iraq.”
This autumn, before the Republican field thinned out, PressTV aired an unsigned commentary titled “Romney, Cain or Perry nomination an absolute disaster for America” that featured a viciously satirical Mitt Romney flip-flopper video—two weeks before the Obama campaign released their own version!
In recent weeks, however, their coverage of Romney has become more factual and less charged, perhaps because Iran’s leaders expect him to win the GOP nomination and possibly become president of the United States.
While PressTV gives some coverage to economic issues—especially any factoid suggesting that poverty is on the rise in the United States—it frequently highlights Ron Paul’s refusal to see the Islamic regime in Iran as a potential threat, his pledge to bring American troops home from overseas, and especially his anti-Israel stance.
PressTV editors introduce a montage of Ron Paul debate clips with the ominous onscreen title, “Do you know why the Israel lobby and Neocons hate US Congressman Ron Paul?”
“We’ve been at war in Iran a lot longer than 1979. We started it in 1953, when we sent in a coup and installed the Shah in a coup, and the blowback’s been going on ever since 1979 because we just plain don’t mind our own business. That’s the problem,” Paul says in one of these clips.
“We don’t even have a treaty with Israel. Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and our money endlessly?” he says in another.
The Tehran regime owns PressTV and controls its content, so its emphasis on finding politicians and “experts” who oppose any form of pressure on Iran is understandable. Some readers, however, may find its proclivity for airing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rants more troublesome.
Many of Ron Paul’s talking points get repeated by the pro-Tehran conspiracy theorists who populate the PressTV airwaves. In the oxygen-free reaches they appear to inhabit, Ron Paul would become the next president of the United States if only the “Zionist lobby” would let him win.
“Paul is pulling around second in Iowa and is being considered a very serious contender by many,” a PressTV anchorwoman says. Then in all seriousness, she asks Mark Dankof, a self-declared political analyst, “Will the Zionist lobby let him win?”
Dankof, who is a frequent guest on PressTV shows, explains that Ron Paul will lose because of the Jews. “If Paul should be successful early on in a couple of primaries or a couple of caucuses then I think the shrill voices in the Israeli-controlled American media will begin to become more aggressive in attacking him,” he says. Zionist lobbies demonizing Ron Paul, Dec. 3, 2011
PressTV touts Dankof as a “former U.S. Senate candidate,” a “political commentator,” or “political analyst” as a way of plumping his resumé. The subterfuge is typical, and Dankof is reliably pro-Tehran, pro-Ron Paul and anti-American—lumping Barack Obama in the same basket as George W. Bush.
But what about his credential as a former U.S. Senate candidate? Dankof claims on his website that he was the “nominated candidate of the Constitution party” in Delaware in 2000. It turns out, however, that the Constitution Party never held a formal nominating process or a party primary, and that Dankof essentially nominated himself to run in that year’s U.S. Senate race.
“Anybody can be a candidate just by filing the forms,” said Howard Phillips, Conservative Party founder and long-time standard bearer. “Mark was never anointed by the Constitution Party; he decided to run by himself.”
Dankof is typical of the type of rabidly anti-Israel, borderline anti-Semitic commentators PressTV relies on. Other regulars include the likes of Philip Giraldi, an ex-CIA officer who regularly denounces Israeli policies as “manifestly evil;” Paul Sheldon Foote, who promotes Holocaust deniers; and a bevy of left-wing, “anti-war” bloggers and 9/11 “truthers.”
Nisa Islam Mohammad, a staff writer for the Nation of Islam’s Final Call newspaper and a member of the Washington Association of Black Journalists, devoted an entire 25-minute segment of her “American Dream” magazine show to the Zionist lobby effort to “destroy” Ron Paul.
“Texas Congressman Ron Paul is campaigning to become the president of America,” she starts off. “But you might not know that if you just watch mainstream media. Why is he omitted? Why wasn’t he invited to the Republican Jewish Coalition’s forum for presidential candidates?”
The answers, of course, can be found in the title of her show. Why Israel lobby and neocons hate Ron Paul, Dec. 26, 2011
To Tehran’s conspiracy-minded political leaders, Ron Paul is a natural ally.
Kenneth R. Timmerman is the New York Times best-selling author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum, 2005), among other works. His books and articles can be found at kentimmerman.com.