Iran War Propaganda on NY Local News

I don’t watch much TV. What I do pick up from cable news is mostly clips that I view on the internet. But last night, I was sitting at a friend’s house and he flipped on the local news on WPIX-11, the New York flagship station of the woefully bad CW Network.

For reasons unknown to me, we watched for a minute. I was shocked at this piece by Larry Mendte, an apparent ‘news commentator’ at WPIX. Watch for yourself, and be amazed at Mendte’s utter lack of knowledge about any of the following areas: Iran, the name of its president, military strategy, what U.S. troops are even doing in Afghanistan and Iraq, the history of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, and on and on ad nauseum:

I would dredge up my piece for AlterNet about humor as war propaganda, but I’m not sure that Mendte is either trying to be funny or succeeding at it.

The piece, “Beady Eyed Lunatic,” starts right out of the gates with a glaring series of mistakes that should put most viewers on notice. Mendte, leaning against a rock that looks like it’s in Central Park, says:

Akhmadinejad [sic]. Loosely translated in Arabic [sic], it means ‘beady eyed lunatic.’ [sic] Which is perfect because Makmet [sic] Akhmadinejad [sic] is president of Iran.

Let me just recount some errors in those two small sentences:

  • – Mendte repeatedly mispronounces or gets wrong the name of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (later “Akmadinejan”).
  • = Iranians speak Farsi, not Arabic. Iranians aren’t even Arabs.

You can imagine where it goes from there. Mendte declares that the U.S. should move its troops from their missions in Iraq (“where we’re not fighting a war anymore” [sic]) and Afghanistan (“where the war’s not going well”) and amass them in countries that border Iran. All this war-mongering to tell a “clown” (Ahmadinejad) that the U.S. is “serious.”

I’ll add that Mendte justified his reason for taking Ahmadinejad “seriously” by putting up a picture of Osama Bin Laden and asserting (falsely) that “we were also told to ignore this guy for the longest time.” Just before that little piece of propagandistic wizardry (the leader of an ‘Axis of Evil’ country compared to Bin Laden to raise fear — sounds like 2002/3 all over again), Mendte recounts fearing the Soviets during the Cold War. It couldn’t be that hiding under desks was also a bit of alarmism meant to militarily mobilize a nation against the chosen foe of that day, could it?

While U.S. public opinion is unmistakably opposed to making war with Iran, having a news commentator deliver this sort of propaganda over the airwaves, combined with some of the  sophistic pitches from more media savvy neoconservatives, should set off alarms that the campaign to win hearts and minds for war is in full swing.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.