WaPo Falls for Iranian President's Charm Offensive

The Washington Post appears to be so taken by Iranian President Rouhani's charm offensive that it fails to notice that there also are some dark stains on his benign image.

Exhibit A: In Rouhani's interview with NBC News, the new Iranian president slammed Israel as an "occupier" nation that's destabilizing the Middle East with "war-mongering" policies. One might think that such an outburst warrants some mention in the Post's news columns. But I haven't been able to find any.

Nor does the Post, in a lengthy front-page article in its Sept. 20 edition, report the quick retort of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged the world not to be fooled by Rouhani's sweet sayings.

Instead of taking notice of Rouhani's slander of Israel, Post correspondent Anne Gearan found it somehow more newsworthy to report that "Rouhani stunned many with a Rosh Hashanah greeting to Jews" and that "he will bring Iran's only Jewish member of parliament with him to New York" for the UN General Assembly. What a refreshingly nice fellow, if you read the Post. ("Ahead of U.N. gathering, the buzz is about Rouhani.")

Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, regularly denounced the United States and Israel, even suggesting that the Holocaust was a myth, Gearan points out as she draws a stark contrast between him and Rouhani. But hold on! In the NBC interview, when Rouhani was asked about his views on the Holocaust and whether he also was a Holocaust denier, he immediately walked away to other topics without answering the question. So substantively, how much really distinguishes Rouhani from Ahmadinejad, when all the PR artifice is stripped away?

But in the meantime, score at least one success for Rouhani's charm offensive.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

The Washington Post appears to be so taken by Iranian President Rouhani's charm offensive that it fails to notice that there also are some dark stains on his benign image.

Exhibit A: In Rouhani's interview with NBC News, the new Iranian president slammed Israel as an "occupier" nation that's destabilizing the Middle East with "war-mongering" policies. One might think that such an outburst warrants some mention in the Post's news columns. But I haven't been able to find any.

Nor does the Post, in a lengthy front-page article in its Sept. 20 edition, report the quick retort of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged the world not to be fooled by Rouhani's sweet sayings.

Instead of taking notice of Rouhani's slander of Israel, Post correspondent Anne Gearan found it somehow more newsworthy to report that "Rouhani stunned many with a Rosh Hashanah greeting to Jews" and that "he will bring Iran's only Jewish member of parliament with him to New York" for the UN General Assembly. What a refreshingly nice fellow, if you read the Post. ("Ahead of U.N. gathering, the buzz is about Rouhani.")

Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, regularly denounced the United States and Israel, even suggesting that the Holocaust was a myth, Gearan points out as she draws a stark contrast between him and Rouhani. But hold on! In the NBC interview, when Rouhani was asked about his views on the Holocaust and whether he also was a Holocaust denier, he immediately walked away to other topics without answering the question. So substantively, how much really distinguishes Rouhani from Ahmadinejad, when all the PR artifice is stripped away?

But in the meantime, score at least one success for Rouhani's charm offensive.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

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