Shane Harris, who writes for The Daily Beast, wrote a piece that was published Sunday night about being approached to write an anti-US/anti-Israel piece for a conference being held by a group in Iran that might have ties to the Iranian government. It’s an interesting read, but totally overblown and all because it has to do with America’s bogeyman of the hour, Iran. American commentators frequently seem to relish calling out behavior in America’s geopolitical opponents (Iran has been a consistent target over the past couple of decades) that they would never even think to mention when it’s exhibited by America’s allies, or America itself. And the thing is, foreign governments and groups try to buy influence and propaganda with the US media and other public institutions all the time, but we rarely mention it. What makes Iran any different?
So at LobeLog I’ve written about what I call “Iran Derangement Syndrome,” this habit of deliberately misconstruing or hyping the stuff Iran does that really isn’t any different from what everybody else does. Particularly grating to me was that Harris got a quote from somebody at the Iranian exile group, Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), criticizing the organizers of this nefarious conference for doing the same stuff that MEK does all the damn time:
Harris then slips firmly into IDS territory. Ali Safavi, a member of MEK’s umbrella organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, warned Harris that Habilian “has tried to influence journalists, opinion leaders, and Iran observers through a steady diet of misinformation disseminated by its paid and unpaid surrogates outside Iran.” This is a serious charge, but it would probably carry more weight if NCRI and MEK didn’t do, well, exactly the same thing. But Harris’s case of IDS only gets worse:
The MEK—which until 2012 the United States officially listed as a terrorist organization—stages it own large conference every year, in Paris, which draws a wide range of former U.S. officials, many of whom are paid to give pro-MEK speeches. To Habilian, this probably looks as one-sided and tendentious as its own rants against the Zionist-controlled media and American foreign policy hypocrisy.
“[P]robably looks as one-sided and tendentious”? Could it be that it…is exactly as one-sided and tendentious? The only difference here seems to be that Habilian recruits Americans who champion outrageous fringe conspiracy theories (one of their past contributors is a Sandy Hook “Truther”), while MEK has been able to hire some of the highest-profile figures in American politics to lobby on its behalf.
Please go read the whole thing!