The last few days have been an ongoing spectacle of media bias and incompetence in the coverage of the Qassem Suleimani strike and its fallout.
Mainstream outlets, suffering mightily from Trump derangement syndrome, practically rooted for a wider conflict with Iran in the hopes it might damage Trump, then evinced genuine disappointment when Iran backed down after half-heartedly lobbing a few short-range ballistic missiles in the direction of U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, which inflicted no casualties.
But just think what could have been! Three days ago, The Atlantic’s David A. Graham wrote a piece headlined, “It’s 2003 All Over Again,” in which he argues the recent killing of Iranian general Suleimani by U.S. missile strike last week is just like the runup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush.
“The U.S. stands on the brink of an unpredictable war in the Middle East,” Graham writes, then describes a scenario in which an American president, “untutored in foreign affairs,” is pushed into war by a hawkish vice president and a powerful Cabinet secretary seeking to “follow through on their deep-rooted ideological commitments.” Meanwhile, as civilian leaders “march toward war,” military officers seem unprepared and “startled by the administration’s belligerence.”
See the connection? Graham sure does. “Each new piece of information about President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian General Qassem Soleimani produces sobering parallels with the situation 17 years ago.”
What a difference two days make. After a face-saving missile attack on an Iraqi airbase that houses some U.S. troops, which American officials were apparently told about in advance by Iraqi intermediaries, the fight seems to have gone out of Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted Tuesday night that Iran had “concluded proportionate measures” and that it does not “seek escalation”—an admission by Tehran that President Trump had called its bluff and the ayatollahs aren’t willing to risk a broader conflict.
Further confirmation came when Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told pro-Iranian militias in Iraq not to retaliate, saying in a statement, “the crisis is over.”
On Wednesday, Trump confirmed that no U.S. troops were injured in the missile attack and that Iran now “appears to be standing down.” Instead of ratcheting up the bellicose rhetoric, Trump gave the Iranians an off-ramp, saying America “is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” and calling for new multilateral negotiations to replace the defunct 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
So far, all of this is very unlike the leadup to the Iraq War, let alone the beginning of World War III. To the media’s dismay, Trump isn’t turning into Bush, and Iran isn’t turning into Iraq. In fact, the entire saga has been deterrence-through-strength 101. Trump surgically took out the world’s number-one terrorist and successfully managed a de-escalation with Iran, but all the liberal media can muster in response is fear-mongering, dissimulation, and what amounts to a collective sneer at Trump and his supporters.
The Media Will Do Anything to Hurt Trump
The Atlantic ran a column by David Frum on Wednesday crowing about how the American people still aren’t rallying around Trump. “The Trump administration and its supporters seem to have hoped for a ‘rally around the flag’ effect from the killing of Soleimani. This did not happen.”
Can you imagine Frum or any other mainstream pundit writing such an article after, say, Benghazi? Of course not. Yet that was a legitimate crisis of the Obama administration’s own making, a deceit-laden screwup brought on by a needless Libya campaign that turned the country into a failed state. Remember all the Atlantic think pieces on how Americans weren’t rallying around President Obama? Me neither.
It seems the media—along with no small number of Democrats—will say anything and take any position, no matter how asinine, if it might hurt Trump. They’ll even praise a murderous theocratic regime. Here’s the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel, with a case in point:
Quote of the day so far, from a Dem member of Congress reacting to Iran’s limited strikes: “You need two crazy leaders to start a war, and fortunately, Iran doesn’t have one.”
— David Weigel (@daveweigel) January 8, 2020
And here’s Joy Behar of ABC’s “The View,” touting the “good news” that Richard Spencer, the racist neo-Nazi provocateur, regrets supporting Trump because of the Suleimani strike—at which the audience applauded.
No wonder so many people hate the mainstream press. No wonder, for example, that in the aftermath of the shooting at West Freeway Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, the church’s minister, Britt Farmer, refused to speak with anyone in the mainstream media. He gave only one interview to the editor of a Christian outlet, who said Farmer “feared how a conservative Christian minister in a pistol-packing congregation might be portrayed.” Smart man.
Of course, no one can predict what will come next in the Middle East. Perhaps Iran will retaliate further, maybe with a terrorist-style attack against U.S. targets somewhere. But for now, by any reasonable standard Trump’s gambit has worked. He dealt a harsh blow to Iran and the mullahs backed down. Just don’t expect the media to be honest about it.