Imagine if part of an NPR story about the current conflict with Iran was an investigation of why the US spurned a truly dramatic diplomatic offer by the Iranians on May 2, 2003 -- an offer in which Iran proposed to do the following: allow more intrusive nuclear inspections, support the 2002 Arab League Initiative recognizing Israel, cut off support for Hezbollah and Hamas, share intelligence on captured al-Qaeda operatives, and work with the US to stabilize Iraq. Such a story would be compelling news, quite different from today's bit from Ted Koppel where he states, "Absent diplomacy and with the general ineffectiveness of economic sanctions, Washington would appear to be left with only a military option."
And what if an NPR report on the Iranian nuclear crisis spent significant time detailing the US's silence and complicity on Israel's massive nuclear weapons program and how that affects Iran's own nuclear plans (not to mention nuclear nonproliferation in general)? That would be informative journalism - and would put Iran's stance in a different light.
This non-coverage of key elements in a story is nothing new. Regarding Iran, NPR news refuses to cover the contradictions and sinister elements of US policy, and instead keeps the focus on fear ("What horrifies U.S. policy makers is the prospect of Iran armed with nuclear weapons") and the idea that a military option is legitimate and reasonable. Listening to Koppel's piece took me back to the spring of 2002, when a lot of airtime was being given to Jeffery Goldberg's fantasy about the connection between Hussein's 1988 Halabja chemical attack and Iraq'a "ties to al-Qaeda." At the time I remember having the sick feeling that the wheels of war were already in motion and that cynical stories like Goldberg's were just part of the larger operation. I have to say NPR's current shoddy reporting on Iran gives me the same foreboding unease.