Bernie and PressTV
I am just waiting for Bernie Ecclestone to be offered a slot on PressTV, the Holocaust denying outfit masquerading as a TV channel.
The Sunday Times had an interesting piece:
“Zahra, an Iranian woman studying at an English university, is in a state of terror. Her husband, an activist in the cause of the defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, was arrested a fortnight ago, and has not been seen since. Zahra, whose eyes are lined in green, the colour of the country’s reformist opposition, told the BBC: “Why should he be in jail? What was wrong with what we did in Tehran? It was the basic right of all Iranians to take part in the election.” She went on: “They don’t let my husband call me . . . this is torture.”
It is torture for Zahra because she has a good idea of what is happening to her husband. The Iranian state media have been broadcasting a series of “confessions” by demonstrators against the alleged rigging of the presidential vote in favour of the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They all tend to say the same thing: “I admit that I demonstrated under the influence of the BBC, the Voice of America and other foreign media.”
Their identities are not discernible, because their faces have been obscured. The reason for this was made horribly clear by remarks in The Guardian from a shopkeeper friend of an 18-year-old who had been “questioned” by the Iranian security services: “You could tell straight away he had just been released. His face was bruised all over. His teeth were broken and he could hardly open his eyes . . . [Later] the doctor told me that he had suffered rupture of the rectum.”
The shopkeeper quoted his 18-year-old friend to the effect that he had not “confessed” despite several days of beating while being hung from a ceiling with his hands and feet tied together. At that point two men tore his clothes off while a third “did it” – that is, inflicted the assault that ruptured his rectum. He was raped several times in this way, in front of four other detainees, but continued to refuse to sign a confession along the lines suggested by his interrogators.
Press TV’s most well-known presenter – sorry, Mr Gilligan – is George Galloway, who has a show called The Real Deal. On it, the Respect MP has defended the conduct of the Iranian presidential elections – in which two provinces apparently managed a voter turnout of more than 100% – contrasting it with the US, where, he said, George W Bush had “actually stolen” the American presidency. Galloway, who has a tendresse for any “antiZionist” leader – how could we forget his face-to-face eulogising of the late Saddam Hussein? – said last week that “Press TV is Iranian-owned, but that doesn’t influence my opinion”.
I’m sure that’s true: Press TV devotes an extraordinary proportion of its output to attacks on “Zionism”, as Martin Bright, the former New Statesman political editor, pointed out in his forensic demolition last Wednesday of Press TV’s spokesman on BBC2’s Newsnight.
It was only a pity that time prevented Bright from detailing how Press TV’s website commissioned an article by a British Holocaust denier called Nicholas Kollerstrom. Kollerstrom insists that no Jews were gassed at Auschwitz, but instead happily played water polo together in the camp’s “elegant swimming pool”. This is, of course, entirely consistent with the views of Ahmadinejad.
I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that Gilligan and co sympathise with the Iranian president’s enthusiasm for Holocaust denial. The London “stars” of Press TV would presumably argue that they are just journalists plying their trade to the best of their ability, selling their talents to anyone who is prepared to bid for them. Indeed, several said last week that they will continue with their shows, because they were “not subject to any political interference” from the Iranian authorities.
How delightful for them; but it should also occur to Gilligan, Ridley and Booth that they are being paid to lend credibility to the propaganda arm of a regime that subjects its own journalists to the most brutal “political interference” – Bahari is one of 24 local reporters or bloggers who have recently been seized by the Iranian authorities – and which is now inciting violence against British reporters in Tehran, by declaring that they are the cause of riots and bloodshed.”