All Things Considered, It’s a Bad Deal, But Only Israel Thinks So


Last night, NPR’s All Things Considered ran a report by Eleanor Beardsley about the eagerness of European businesses to get back into Iran after the lifting of sanctions.  Such a story could and should have been reported without passing judgment on the merits of the agreement itself.

Instead, over a minute of the report is devoted to explaining that the deal is uncontroversial in France, that this is because it’s a strong deal, Iran “can’t even think about making a bomb for 15 years,” and that France deserves credit for helping to make it so.  These assertions by the French Foreign Minister are simply accepted at face value.  In fact, the assertions about the strength of the deal are demonstrably false; and so, therefore, and the claims that France extracted any worthwhile concessions from Iran during the negotiations.   Left implied, but unasked, is the conclusion that if the agreement is solid because of French-demanded concessions, it have been weak and unverifiable had the US been left to negotiate on its own.

But the next quote is even worse, from Thierry Coville of the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs:

Most of the newspapers consider it a good agreement, and it’s good for peace.  But, let’s say you have some experts which are taking the Israeli line, criticizing Obama, but it’s a minority.

Coville, whose focus of studies is Iran’s economics, politics, and the historical interplay between the two, ghettoizes criticism of the deal into Israeli criticism of Obama.  There’s no valid debate, no valid critique, and indeed, even though it was the French who allegedly gave the agreement its teeth, the criticism is of Obama.

Beardsley let this characterization go without objection.

Let’s review Beardsley’s options.  She could have asked for another quote that didn’t take the discussion off into anti-Bibi Land.  She could have continued the discussion with Coville until she got such a quote.  She could have talked to another expert.  She could have not used a quote at all, since she reads the French press and knows perfectly well what they’re saying about the deal.  She could have not devoted 25% of her report to selling the deal to us in the first place.

Instead, she did none of those things, and let the words of an allegedly independent authority indict criticism of the deal as emanating from Jerusalem.

It would appear, then, that the editorial position of NPR is the same as that of Obama: opposition to the deal will come only from Israel and her lobbyists.

Your tax dollars at work.