What’s Missing From Time’s Iran Timeline

You learn a lot about the corporate media when they try to give you a history lesson–since what’s left unmentioned can say so much.

In the October 7 issue of Time magazine–the one with the headline “Iran’s Dubious Charms” on the cover–a long piece about Iran includes the graphic pictured to the right.

Now, anyone who might want to understand US/Iran relations is not going to find out very much from this. It’s not easy to summarize a half century or more of history, but the items selected here are more than a little curious.

How important was it, really, that Bill Clinton almost but didn’t quite meet the Iranian president in New York? It’s hard to think that will go down in the history books as being an especially notable non-event.

Likewise, Barack Obama’s Persian New Year’s video greeting to Iran’s Supreme Leader in 2009 is unlikely to be cited by many historians as one of the six most important events in the history of US/Iranian relations.

We’re told that the “history of hostility” in those relations begins in 1979, when Iran calls the US the Great Satan and takes American hostages. Of course, anyone with some basic knowledge of Iranian history could choose a different starting point–say, 1953, when the US helped orchestrate a coup that ousted Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh. (Note to Time: It’s OK now to talk about this publicly–the CIA acknowledged its role this summer.)

 Or one might point to the US support for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the war with Iran that spanned most of the 1980s–which saw the US offer intelligence support for Iraqi chemical weapons attacks on Iran.

Or one could recall that a United States cruiser shot down Iran Air Flight 665 in 1988, killing 290 passengers on board. The incident didn’t make a big impression on U.S. media at the time, which might help explain why Time wouldn’t see fit to acknowledge that this happened.

But there’s a good chance that Iranians do remember this history. By excluding these incidents, Time offers a clear lesson in how corporate media view history that is especially unflattering to the United States. Why remember it at all, when it’s so much easier to forget?

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.