CAMERA Op-Ed: Iran Threatens to Murder an American President, and the Media Yawn

On January 3, Iran’s President, Ebrahim Raisi, said that former US president Donald Trump “must stand trial and receive retribution in kind” for ordering the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s Quds Force. But apparently, many mainstream news outlets couldn’t care less that the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism is calling for the murder of an American president.

Raisi was speaking at an event commemorating the second anniversary of a US drone strike that killed Soleimani and another top terrorist, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad. The IRGC Quds Force that Soleimani led, oversaw Iran’s training and support for US-designated terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah, among others.

The Quds Force was also responsible for many of the improvised explosive device (IED) attacks that murdered and maimed US and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, Soleimani’s appearance in Iraq occurred at a time of heightened tensions with the United States, with Iranian proxies launching attacks on American personnel in the region.

Soleimani had American blood on his hands. But his death prompted hysterics from some press outlets and policymakers, who warned that Trump had just started “World War III.” Two years later, Iran has yet to fully retaliate — although some plots have reportedly been foiled.

Tehran, however, hasn’t forgotten. The regime pulled out all the stops for the second anniversary of Soleimani’s “martyrdom.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with the terrorist leader’s family, and praised Soleimani as “the most nationalist and religious person in Iran.” Swearing defiance, Raisi warned that Soleimani was “not just an individual, but a doctrine,” and “doctrines remain and survive.”

Iran, President Raisi made clear to the adoring crowds chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” would continue to target Americans.

If former President Donald Trump, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and “the rest of the criminals” responsible for ordering the drone strike don’t face a “just tribunal,” then he said that “the hand of revenge will emerge from the sleeve of the nation.” Raisi added that he was speaking to “all the American statesmen.” Indeed, Iran has previously made it clear that it also holds the current US administration responsible for Soleimani’s death.

Yet, Iran’s threats weren’t even front-page news. Major newspapers like The Washington Post and The New York Times didn’t even cover Raisi’s promise to murder the former US president and secretary of state. Ditto for CNN. Two years ago, the network decried the US military strike that took out Soleimani.

Trump, one CNN article warned at the time, was threatening “the stability of the world.” Soleimani’s death, another claimed, “threatens [a] spiral of violence in the Middle East.”

The Washington Post’s silence on Iran’s threats is similarly curious. In the week after the 2020 strike, the newspaper published more than a dozen op-eds, with nearly all of them critical of the Trump administration’s decision.

The operation, Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote on January 3, 2020, put the US “on the precipice of an international conflagration.” Americans, she claimed, were now “at greater risk.” Rubin, however, hasn’t said a word about Iran threatening US public servants.

Some mainstream news outlets like NewsweekThe Hill, and US News and World Report, did cover Iran’s threats. But they seem to be the exception to the rule.

The media’s silence is particularly galling when one considers that the US and Iran are currently engaged in talks in Vienna over the latter’s illegal nuclear weapons program. The talks, however, have continued despite the threats. By contrast, in April 1993, then-President Bill Clinton launched a missile strike at Iraq in retaliation for Saddam Hussein plotting to assassinate George H.W. Bush while the ex-president was visiting Kuwait in April 1993.

The nuclear talks even seem likely to continue after Iranian-backed militias fired rockets at US troops in bases in Syria and Iraq on January 5, 2022. The Post covered the attacks — but failed to note that they coincided with Tehran threatening to murder our nation’s former chief executive and chief diplomat. Politics and partisanship should be set aside when it comes to threats of this nature. But it seems that for some pundits, valuing political norms and institutions is a flexible priority.

(Note: A slightly different version of this article appeared as an Op-Ed in the Algemeiner on Jan. 17, 2022)