Media focus hinders American public

Our situation with Iran needs a cursory understanding, not immediate labeling.

The New York Times reported U.S. intelligence officials believe Iran is supplying the most sophisticated and deadly bomb being used by insurgents in Iraq. The assessment conforms to Iran’s antagonistic posture toward U.S. presence in the Middle East, and helps explain the mounting tensions between the two countries.

In their discussion of Iran’s activities, U.S. officials were careful to assert that they were not building a case for war with Iran. It was an important clarification to make given the government’s run-up to the war in Iraq when government officials routinely cited evidence that seemingly convicted Saddam Hussein of harboring weapons of mass destruction. Under this administration, it’s only natural to assume that any intelligence on anti-American activities – be it in North Korea or elsewhere – could very well be a prologue to war.

If they were trying to build a case for war, however, it appears they wouldn’t receive many questions from certain media outlets. On 24-hour cable news in particular, the ongoing conflict with Iran is treated in almost the same way as the death of Anna Nicole Smith. News analysts trot out emerging developments, and viewers get to watch 24 hours of breaking news unfold before their eyes.

The problem with these outlets is that they seek higher ratings over depth of reporting. In order to keep people watching, they’ll cut long conversations short, reduce complex topics and opt for good-looking news analysts over stodgy foreign policy experts. Because of that, much that is important gets lost to the larger public that tunes into these stations.

Iran’s alleged actions are atrocious, make no mistake; but the situation deserves more than a cursory understanding. It’s easy to label Iran as an enemy, but it only opens the door to misguided foreign policy. Our country misunderstood Iraq, but what if it didn’t? Imagine how the government would have acted if 60 percent of the country opposed military action in Iraq before the country invaded, rather than the other way around with reality.