Can CNN possibly be this naive—or is the Trump-hating network this cynically manipulative? On this morning’s New Day, CNN seized on crowd size and man-in-the-street interviews in Tehran to claim that the killing of Qasem Soleimani has “united” Iran.
Co-host John Berman teed up reporter Fred Pleitgen, on the ground in Tehran, with this leading question:
“These demonstrations that you’re seeing . . . do they indicate that the US actions have actually worked to unify the Iranian people behind the government there?”
Pleitgen was only too happy to oblige, repeatedly claiming that the killing of Soleimani has indeed “unified” Iran. The height of absurdity came when Pleitgen cited “one gentleman who came up to me” and said that despite the problems in Iran, “now everybody is united.” Gee, Fred: you don’t suppose that “gentleman” might have been an Iranian agent or lackey who had been gently encouraged to speak with a Western reporter? Whatever happened to journalistic skepticism?
Would CNN go to a Trump rally and just accept the first opinion of a “gentleman who came up to me” as America’s unified opinion?
Crowds are not polls, particularly in repressive dictatorships like Iran. CNN’s claim of a “unified” Iran is about as reliable as its prediction, the day before the 2016 election, that Hillary had 91% odds of winning!
Here’s the transcript.
6:02 am ET
JOHN BERMAN: I have a question for you. We talk about the unintended consequences of killing Soleimani. The Trump administration has been working to sow dissent within Iran for months if not years, even stoking protests. But these demonstrations that you’re seeing, that you’re in the middle of today, do they indicate that the US actions have actually worked to unify the Iranian people behind the government there?
FRED PLEITGEN: You know what? It’s interesting, John, because there’s a lot of people here who have actually come to us and said that the killing of Qasem Soleimani and of course the aftermath that you’re seeing on those live pictures and that we’ve been witnessing here first-hand, that that has been one of the biggest unifiers that Iran has seen a very long time.
There was one gentleman who came up to me and said look, of course, you’ve seen we have our problems here in Iran. We have protests here in Iran. However, now everybody is united. And obviously the majority of the population here is very much united. Even the hard-liners, the religious hard-liners here in this country could not have thought that so many people would turn up today, so many people have been turning up in the past day-and-a-half. And that’s the fact that Qasem Soleimani, who’s obviously internationally seen quite critically, does have a lot of followers and is very revered here inside Iran. So it certainly is something that has unified the nation.