Press TV controversies
Press TV has been the subject of several controversies. The station has been criticised for its uncritical embrace of provocative stances. For British journalist Nick Cohen the station is "a platform for the full fascist conspiracy theory of supernatural Jewish power" and for commentator Douglas Murray it is the "Iranian government’s propaganda channel".
Responding to Cohen and others, politician and Press TV presenter George Galloway has said the station "challenges the prevailing orthodoxy" by providing an outsider perspective on "the truth and a voice for the otherwise voiceless". Mehdi Hasan of the New Statesman has argued that "engaging with Iran, no matter who is in charge in Tehran, is a prerequisite for peace and progress in the region. The very fact that Press TV is Iranian-owned makes it the ideal English-language platform on which to do so."
- 1 Controversy
- 2 Allegations and statements about Canada
- 3 Suppression
- 4 UK base
- 5 Staff incidents
- 6 See also
- 7 References
Alleged propaganda aims
Press TV's news bulletins often feature Iranian ministers, diplomats or government officials, or guest commentators that are able to express views consistent with the Iranian government's "message of the day." Opposition political figures such as Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have not appeared on Press TV since the June 2009 presidential election.
Allegations of bias and error
Press TV has been criticized for uncritically promoting Iran's line overseas, often at the expense of the truth. In a post-election "information offensive," reports the Associated Press, Press TV and Al-Alam have "churned out a blitz of policy statements, negotiating points and news breaks as the main soapboxes for Iran's public diplomacy."
In 2007, the Canadian weekly Maclean's, while noting that "most of Press TV's news reports are factually accurate," alleged that Press TV also publishes "intentional errors," citing a story on the Press TV website that contained the claim, based on "no evidence," that the Lebanese government is trying to convert the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp into an American military base."
In July 2009, Dominic Lawson, a columnist for the Sunday Times of London, criticized Press TV for broadcasting the "confession" of Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari "without a scintilla of skepticism." He also criticized British journalists and politicians for appearing on Press TV and for giving a forum to Holocaust deniers. Lawson said they are "being paid to lend credibility to the propaganda arm of a regime that subjects its own journalists to the most brutal 'political interference.'"
Rania Masri, who was featured together with Paul Craig Roberts and Danny Schechter on a Press TV show marking the eighth anniversary of 9/11, commented on her blog, "Danny Schechter is right: even such a limited conversation, as was had on Press TV, cannot be heard on mainstream/corporate US press."[unreliable source?]
On December 27, 2007, Press TV reported that demonstrators in Iran marched through the streets of Tehran carrying signs (in English) saying "I Love Jews," citing this as evidence that there is no anti-Semitism in Iran. "The People's Cube" website, source of this spoof that Press TV reported as news, had this explanation for why Press TV was taken in by such an obvious prank: "You have been lying for so long that you lost the ability to distinguish between truth and fiction."[unreliable source?]
Allegations of antisemitism
The Jerusalem Post, together with outlets such as the British Searchlight magazine, have criticized Press TV for publishing, on its official website, an article The Walls of Auschwitz: A Review of the Chemical Studies claiming that the Auschwitz gas chambers were used for "benign" purposes only; the article was written by the British science historian, Holocaust denier and conspiracy theorist Nicholas Kollerstrom.
It has been accused of promoting of Holocaust denial. On the subject of International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), an editorial on the Press TV website noted, "On this anniversary, we all need to mull over the faking of history and the Greatest Lie Ever Told." The station has been criticized for giving a platform to conspiracy theorists and radical political activists.[unreliable source?]
In a September 15, 2009 article entitled "Incendiary Press Reporting," Moroccan journalist Hassan Masiky criticized Press TV for trafficking in "fiction and fantasy" by circulating a suspect story about "an alleged Jewish gang trading in “body parts” and abduction of Algerian children towards Morocco."[unreliable source?]
In a May 2011 article, correspondent Mark Dankof, who is also a contributor to the conspiracy-oriented American Free Press, wrote an article about how the antisemitic Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion accurately reflect the state of the world, lauding PressTV as one of the few exceptions to the Jewish control of the media.
In October 2012, the Anti-Defamation League issued a report detailing what it says are examples of Press TV broadcasting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and opinions. The report criticizes Press TV for interviewing or providing commentary space for a number of individuals which it describes as "American anti-Semites, conspiracy theorists and Holocaust deniers, who help amplify the Iranian regime's hateful messages".
In November 2013, Press TV website reprinted an opinion piece in its 'Viewpoints' section, first written by M.I. Bhat in Veterans Today, above the disclaimer that The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Press TV. The article claimed that Jews are not only to blame for the Germans rallying behind Hitler, but also asked if Jews did not learn from their experiences in Germany, Russia and the United States, would it surprise Zionists or the world" if Americans are "incubating another Hitler?" The article also alleged that much had already been written and said about "American Zionists' control of the United States of America - banks, Wall Street, media, Hollywood, markets, politicians, foreign policy, indeed the whole life of Americans," and that the recent headline, "White House urges Jewish leaders not to lobby for new Iran sanctions" was even stronger proof. Bhat also asserted that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a "false flag" attack committed by "American Zionist Jews and Israel" who successfully diverted the resulting American fury against Muslims. The ADL said Bhat's opinions are "typical of the anti-Jewish propaganda peddled by Press TV as legitimate news."
Allegations and statements about Canada
Following the severing of diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran in September 2012, Press TV began to devote more attention to Canada.
In December 2012, Press TV aired a report entitled "Alberta takes aboriginal kids from parents at high rate" in which Joshua Blakeney, Press TV's Calgary correspondent, claimed that Alberta's child protective services were engaged in the human trafficking of First Nations children. Blakeney stated that "Some upset parents allege that there is a profit motive behind what they refer to as Canada's so-called child protective services" and asserted that an anti-terrorism squad, called INSET, was responsible for the abductions.
One of the veiled women interviewed in the report (who was not identified) claimed that her "aboriginal children" were taken by a squad of 32 police officers." Another woman interviewed stated that "It definitely is a money-making scheme, because a lot of native children have been sold into adoption, but it is also used as an assimilation program [and] a genocidal program." The report also showed written messages of "Help me! Now!!", which were allegedly written by abducted children.
The allegations in the report were immediately denied by Government officials and Native leaders. Cindy Blackstock, an associate professor at the University of Alberta and executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada denied the report was true, stating that "The factors driving aboriginal children into care have been well-known for 15 years; it's poverty, poor housing and substance abuse. ... The federal government provides significantly less funding on reserves than for all other Canadians ... but I have never in my life heard of any military undertones to this."
Blakeney has also claimed in reports published or broadcast by Press TV, that the appearance of Canada's new $20 bill was evidence that Canada “remained an imperialist nation” and that "90% of Canadian youth felt stressed about careers." Blakeney subsequently claimed that his reports for Press TV are “defiantly illuminating the skeletons in Canada’s closet.”
Another report made several charges against the Canadian government, including:
- Secret plans to "steal indigenous children";
- "Ignorance of the First Nation land rights";
- Jailing refugees without cause; and
- using excessive force to suppress student protests.
Another program interviewed Alfred Lambremont Webre, who was described as an "international lawyer" based in Vancouver. Webre stated Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an "out and out Zionist" who is engaging in the "same repressive policies within Canada that Israel follows within its own territories against the Palestinian people." Webre then described a conspiracy between Vancouver police and serial killer Robert Pickton "to commit ritual Satanic murders with high-ranking politicians." Finally, Webre claimed that the Queen of England abducted 10 Aboriginal children in 1964. Concluding his comments, Webre described Canada as "the ultimate Zionist state under the British Crown and under Israel."
Paul Heinbecker, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations and a distinguished fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation at the University of Waterloo, has stated that Press TV is highlighting Canada's First Nations in order to "negate" Canadian reports of human rights allegations against Iran. Heinbecker stated that "The human rights situations in the two countries are scarcely comparable ... but our own very real shortcomings on Aboriginal issues ... are fodder for the Iranian efforts."
Ed Corrigan, an immigration lawyer and former councillor for London, Ontario, is a regular guest on Press TV. Corrigan, who has boasted that "There's very few people in Canada who have more expertise on Middle East politics than I do," argues that Press TV is demonstrating the "international opinion" of Canada's treatment of its native peoples, explaining that "We tend to forget about our conquest of North America ... but most countries in the world see it as a colonial exercise."
In 2010, the Jammu and Kashmir government banned Press TV for airing video on the 2010 Qur'an-burning controversy saying "We have decided to impose a ban on the airing of Press TV broadcasts by local cable operators. We appeal to the people not to heed unverified reports about the alleged desecration of the Holy Koran which have only been aired by Press TV and no other television news channel in the world."
Removal from Western and Asian satellites
In July 2013 Press TV and other Iranian channels were removed from several European and American satellites (amongst others those of Eutelsat and Intelsat), allegedly because of the Iran sanctions, even though an EU spokesman told the channel that these sanctions do not apply to media. In November 2012, the Hong Kong-based AsiaSat took Iranian channels off air in East Asia, and in October 2012 Eutelsat and Intelsat stopped broadcasting several Iranian satellite channels, though the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting managed to resume broadcasts after striking deals with smaller companies based in other countries.
Removal from Astra satellite
On April 3, 2012, Munich-based media regulator Bayerische Landeszentrale für neue Medien (BLM), announced it was removing Press TV from the SES Astra satellite, as they did not have a licence to broadcast in Europe. However, the channel's legal team submitted documents to the court that proved Press TV could broadcast under German law. An administrative court in Germany accepted Press TV's argument and the legal procedures began. Munich's Administrative Court announced on Friday 15 June that the ban was illegal. Recently (September 2012), the channel has again been unavailable on Astra 19.2E. An information screen is displayed.
Press TV began its activities in London during 2006. Roshan Muhammed Salih is Press TV's news editor and chief correspondent. Other London correspondents include Fareena Alam.
Maziar Bahari and UK licence revocation
In June 2010, Channel 4, the British broadcaster, transmitted a programme featuring Maziar Bahari, a documentary maker and Newsweek contributor, who was arrested while covering the Iranian presidential election in 2009, and held in custody for 118 days. He alleged that a Press TV 10 second interview and 'confession' had been preceded by torture, and was given under the threat of execution. Bahari, now a British resident, complained to Ofcom, the regulatory authority for the telecommunication industries in the United Kingdom.
In May 2011, Ofcom ruled that Press TV was responsible for a serious breach of UK broadcasting rules by airing the 10 second interview with Maziar Bahari, accepting that it had been obtained under duress while he was held in a Tehran jail. Press TV rejected Ofcom's findings and accused Bahari of being "an MI6 contact person". A fine of £100,000 ($155,000 in January 2012) was eventually imposed in November 2011, reversing an initial decision to revoke Press TV's licence. Press TV responded: "The British royal family exercises an overarching power over all branches in the political system of the [UK], including the government and the parliament, as well as on Ofcom." At the beginning of December, The Observer journalist Nick Cohen called for Ofcom to revoke the station's broadcast licence, not only because behaviour towards Maziar Bahari, but in addition:
"If whites ran Press TV, one would have no difficulty in saying it was a neo-Nazi network. It welcomes British Holocaust-deniers such as Nicholas Kollerstrom, fascist ideologues such as Peter Rushton, the leader of the White Nationalist party – an organisation that disproves the notion that the only thing further to the right of the BNP is the wall ..."
On 20 January 2012, Press TV's licence to broadcast in the UK was revoked by Ofcom. The investigation into the Bahari case had revealed the applying company's direct connection to Tehran, and that editorial control came from there. An invitation to change this in the licence had not been taken up by Press TV. The unpaid fine was not the reason why Ofcom ended Press TV's licence.
Geoffrey Alderman, the British historian and occasional Press TV contributor, attacked the Ofcom decision, and called for it to be reversed. He described the action by Ofcom as "thoroughly deplorable as well as palpably cynical". Defenders of Press TV, including Alderman and the broadcaster's legal representative, Farooq Bajwa, have referred to a formerly secret American diplomatic cable dated 4 February 2010. Later released by WikiLeaks, it says the British Government was at time "exploring ways to limit the operations of the IRIB's Press TV service". This 'exploration' was in response to the jamming by the Iranian government of broadcasts by the BBC Persian Service and the Voice of America, also mentioned in the document and mentioned by Alderman.
Journalist Mark Levine says that he was promised editorial control of his show, The American Dream. However, in September 2007, when Levine decided to broadcast a show on Ahmadinejad's UN visit that included noted Persian scholars who had expressed criticism of Ahmadinejad, he alleges that he was blocked from doing the program at the last minute: "One hour before the show was scheduled to air live, the show was cancelled with no explanation given. I was later told that Press TV would not allow me to discuss the topic." Shortly after that, Levine was fired from his job.[third-party source needed] Levine alleged that anti-Semitism also may have played a role in his firing: "I also believed my being Jewish may have played a role in the firing, given the shock, surprise, and horror manifested by the producer who hired me when she discovered my religious faith."[third-party source needed]
Amanda Lindhout, a Canadian freelance reporter who had worked for Press TV as a correspondent in Baghdad, was kidnapped in Somalia on August 23, 2008. Upon payment of ransom allegedly in the amount of $600,000, Ms. Lindhout was safely released in November 2009.
George Galloway's broadcasts on Press TV have been criticized by British broadcast authority Ofcom for "breaching impartiality rules." In its report, Ofcom cited complaints about Galloway's January 2009 programs on Gaza alleging that Galloway's broadcasts "failed to put both sides of the argument in relation to the situation in Gaza; constituted Iranian propaganda; and that George Galloway in particular did not conduct a balanced discussion on the issue of Gaza."[unreliable source?] Galloway compared the threat to stone homosexuals and apostates to passages in the Old Testament and accused Henshaw of bias in not making the comparison. Henshaw defended his production as having covered present day statements by a Muslim preacher and challenged Galloway to cite a similar statement by a "vicar or rabbi."[unreliable source?][better source needed]
Nick Ferrari, a leading British radio presenter, quit his show on Press TV on 30 June 2009, following the response of the country's authorities to protests over the disputed Iranian presidential election. Ferrari told The Times that Press TV’s news coverage had been "reasonably fair" until the election—but not any longer.
In August 2009, Tariq Ramadan, host of Islam and Life on Press TV, was dismissed from his position as a guest lecturer at Erasmus University Rotterdam, after the university's board decided that his "indirect relationship with a repressive regime" was unacceptable. Ramadan, who also holds a position at the University of Oxford, is considering legal action against the university.
Shahab Mossavat, hosted news updates and 4 Corners (a daily roundtable discussion of international events) on Press TV. Mossavat was one of the most articulate and recognizable faces on the network, and served as Press TV's spokesman beginning in 2007. The program (4Corners) which he co-produced and co-presented was cancelled shortly before the 2009 Presidential election. Mossavat was arrested the day after the election for alleged participation in demonstrations protesting election fraud. In an August 28, 2009 interview on Public Radio International, Mossavat, who now lives in London, spoke about his experiences in detention: "I saw many people maltreated – brutally treated – tortured physically, psychologically. I didn't see any sexual abuse but I did certainly see physical abuse. I saw people whose noses had been smashed so much so that they were flattened into their faces."
In September 2009, it was revealed in an article in The Times that Hassan Abdulrahman, born David Theodore Belfield, one of the chief editors of the Press TV website from the beginning of Press TV's news department, is a fugitive wanted in the United States. Abdulrahman, who has also used the alias Dawud Salahuddin, is wanted by the FBI for shooting dead at point-blank range Ali Akbar Tabatabai, a former press attache at the pre-revolutionary Iranian embassy in Washington. The Iranian government provided money and airfare to Tehran to Belfield after he committed the murder. The Times also reported Abdulrahman's claim that he left as chief online editor in July 2009 after the election in protest at Press TV's skewed coverage of that event. The Times quoted Abdulrahman as saying, "No, I don't think Press TV is about [real journalism]. By its nature, state journalism is not journalism. They have some programmes on there that might be, but generally it's not."
An editorial in The Spectator criticized Conway's decision to join Press TV, asking the rhetorical question, "What on earth possesses someone like Derek Conway to hook up with an outfit like Press TV?" and criticized the network for giving voice to Holocaust denier Nicholas Kollerstrom and the former Middle East Chief Correspondent for ITN Alan Hart. An article in The Jewish Chronicle by its editor Stephen Pollard showed an exchange between himself and Conway, in which the former MP invited Pollard to appear on his show. Pollard rejected the invitation. Prior to his employment at Press TV, former MP Conway had the whip withdrawn by the Conservatives for employing his son (a full-time student) as a political researcher.
- Al Jazeera controversies and criticism
- BBC controversies
- CNN controversies
- Fox News Channel controversies
- MSNBC Controversies
- Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting conspiracy theories
- Nick Cohen "Who will rid us of hate channels such as Press TV?", The Observer, 4 December 2011
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- Iranian media report claims Alberta police abduct, traffic Aboriginal children for profit by Tristin Hopper, National Post, December 11, 2012.
- Alberta takes aboriginal kids from parents at high rate, Press TV, December 10, 2012.
- Parents dispute removal of Canadian aboriginal children, Press TV, December 10, 2012.
- Why Are Aboriginal Children Being Removed From Canadian Parents at an 'Alarming' Rate? by Liz Klimas, The Blaze, December 11, 2012.
- Lack of fact doesn't stop journalist claiming Alberta government sells Native children by Michael Platt, Calgary Sun, December 13, 2012.
- [Conspiracy theorist and Iranian-sponsored journalist takes aim at Alberta] by Ian Campbell, 660News Radio (Calgary) December 13, 2012.
- Canada and its 'out and out Zionist' prime minister have become the latest target of Iran's Press TV by Tristin Hopper, National Post, January 18, 2013.
- Canadian politicians involved in Aboriginal women killings: Alfred Lambremont Webre, Press TV, December 20, 2012.
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