Peace in our Time
Even before Hassan Rouhani has been installed as Iran's new president, the Washington Post already is gushing that this "moderate" cleric promises to end Tehran's outlaw regime and put his country on a path of peace and reconciliation with the West. If you believe the Post's June 16 front-page report from Tehran, Rouhani can be reliably counted on to end decades of tension, repression, and genocidal threats.
Here's how Post correspondents Jason Rezaian and Joby Warrick put it in their lead paragraph: "Iranians took a giant stride toward ending their country's isolation by voting overwhelmingly in weekend presidential elections for a moderate reformer who promised a clear break from policies that put Iran on a collision course with the West."
To buttress their good-news reporting, Rezaian and Warrick assure Post readers that Rouhani's victory is a "repudiation of not only the Ahmadinejad years but also the hold that conservatives have maintained over Iranian politics since 2005."
And that Rouhani's "powerful mandate" will let him "negotiate a settlement of Iran's nuclear activities" amid a "thaw in relations between Washington and Tehran."
Never mind that Rouhani, despite his supposedly "moderate" credentials, has a long history of supporting Iran's nuclear policies and that the Iranian leader who is in charge of the nuclear program will not be Rouhani, the president, but Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, who outranks Rouhani.
In other words, this is a piece fabricated by wishful thinking. Instead of giving Post readers a profile of Rouhani's past views and pronouncements, the paper prefers to convey an imagined fictional future, with not an iota of solid substantiation.
In a 27-paragraph piece, there's hardly any mention of Khamenei's supremacy in deciding whether to continue to let the centrifuges spin so that Iran soon will have the bomb. Only in the 24th paragraph does the article belatedly take note that Iran's nuclear policies are "controlled primarily by Khamenei and the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps," but then immediately assures readers that Rouhani's landslide nevertheless could force Khamenei and the other mullahs "to shift policies that have subjected Iran to international censure and harsh economic sanction."
In other words, a new dawn of peace and responsible behavior by Iran that should ease Western fears about its status as No. 1 spawning ground for international terrorism and Iran's headlong rush to gain entry into the nuclear club, along with its repeated determination to wipe Israel off the Mideast map.
This is some chutzpah for the Post to presume that its crystal ball can project Iran's future! Especially coming on the heels of pre-election coverage guaranteeing the Khamenei would never allow Rouhani to win. Those forecasts -- by the Post and most other Western media -- were utterly wrong. So you'd think that this might have a sobering effect on post-election coverage. But the media know how to bury their mistakes, giving them a clear path to repeat them again and again.
Actually, even Razaian and Warrick -- while cheerleading for Rouhani -- may not be 100 percent persuaded by their glowing profile. To cover themselves in case things don't quite turn out that way, they tuck in a few words of caution -- "The election's impact is far from clear."
But if this is so, why spend two dozen paragraphs selling readers on the notion that Rouhani's victory signals peace in our time?
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers