Authoritarian regimes dream through propaganda and so, to see what they're fantasizing about, we regularly check in on what state-controlled media outlets have been churning out.
Iran: British wars are predicated on a pack of lies
Iran's state-run news outlets have been lashing out at the U.K. with particular gusto ever since the London riots provided them with an opportunity to turn the tables on their Western critics and demand an end to the "violent crackdown" on "peaceful protesters." Today, for example, the Fars News Agency seizes on a study showing that many British companies are blocking access to social networking sites because of hacking concerns. Fars suggests that the trend is really about the U.K. clamping down on free speech in the wake of its recent unrest.
But Press TV took an even harsher swipe yesterday with an article entitled "Britain Wars All Based on Lies." The article claims that British leaders lied about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction to invade Iraq, the role of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks to invade Afghanistan, and protecting civilians to invade Libya. As far as Press TV is concerned, the international community agrees with the premise of its article. In the wake of the Libyan intervention, the site writes, "the world's public opinion in general would never ever again accept the so-called Western humanitarian concerns as a good excuse for supporting evil objectives behind military interventions elsewhere around the globe."
Belarus is a bit confused about what an op-ed is
Belarus is not known for its media freedom. So it was a bit surprising to come across an Opinion section at the state-run Belarusian Telegraph Agency. But, alas, it turns out BelTA is simply running quotes from government officials rather than commentary from columnists. In today's post, deputy education minister Viktor Yakzhik praises the government's decision to spend more money on scholarships and bonuses for students. "Care about students has always been a priority for the state," he boasts. In the previous column, Sergei Dubkov, the deputy chairman of the board of the National Bank, asserts that the government's plan to ease the loan debt burden on individuals will avert problems on Belarus' loan market. Scintillating stuff!
Syria's war on cable channels
Syria has long denounced foreign news outlets for distorting their coverage of the Syrian uprising, launching a legal investigation into foreign media for inciting turmoil, squeezing Al Jazeera Arabic out of the country, and deporting an Al Jazeera journalist to Iran. But now the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency has developed an icon, on right, to express its wrath in more graphic terms. An article today with the image claims a Syrian deliberately lied about mass graves in the southern city of Daraa and "provocative TV channels hurried to accuse the Syrian Arab Army of committing such terrorist acts." Another article with the image over the weekend accused Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya in particular of calling for "arming the terrorists and foreign interference in Syria in a manner that betrays clear annoyances and disappointment over the gradual return of normal life to several Syria cities which had witnessed criminal acts by armed terrorist groups."
China to world: our rise is nothing to fear!
On Tuesday, the Chinese government released a white paper on its vision for the country's future, promising that it will be a wealthy and strong nation that maintains peace with other countries and does not seek to dominate other nations as past great powers have. The BBC points out that the document "does not mention that those who disagree with that view or offer an alternative way of living are often persecuted," nor does it note that Vietnam and the Philippines have recently "complained about China's actions in the disputed waters of the South China Sea."
The BBC may be skeptical, but China's state-run media is fully on board. Headlines like China Never Seeks Hegemony and China Committed to Peace and Growth dominated the homepages of websites. While "China's rapid development in the recent decade has caused worries among some in the West," a China Daily op-ed noted, "such a concern is groundless. China has never harbored the idea of exporting to the outside world the 'China model' as some Westerners have claimed. " State-controlled news outlets are less sanguine about the West's future, however. A Global Times column yesterday yielded yet another example of a phenomenon that has become commonplace in the Chinese media these days: America-bashing:
Recently a series of shocking incidents have happened successively in the West. The US credit rating was downgraded for the first time in a century. The European sovereign debt crisis keeps worsening. A shocking terrorist attack hit in Norway. A serious riot of a kind not seen since the early 1980s broke out in England. All kinds of plights and turmoil show that the Western countries are experiencing a profound institutional crisis after being hit hard by the international financial crisis.