Dateline Does Tehran

Ann Curry’s report for Dateline, titled Inside Iran, debuted tonight. I didn’t catch the whole thing, so I watch it in parts on the NBC website.

I couldn’t decide how I felt about it, so I had to make a list:

I liked:

  • the Irani technopop in the soundtrack! They had some of my favorites, like Rezaya (included below).
  • the focus on similarities between the U.S. and Iran.
  • the amount of high-profile women highlighted and interviewd in the program: Dr. Minoo Moraz, Nasrine Sotoudeh, Tahmineh Milani, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, etc.
  • Ann Curry’s Tehrani-style roosari (headscarf).

I hated:

  • the predictable focus on the scary people shouting “Death to America”, the ubiquitous shots of anti-American murals from the Revolutionary period.
  • how Curry kept saying, “Tay-ran.”
  • who is this guy translating for Khatami?!
  • how the report played up the differences between Iran and the U.S. in a way to make them seem insurmountable and morally-reprehensible (“Look! Rafsanjani is holding a gun while he preaches at Friday prayer! How unlike us and how awful!”)

Despite the many positives in the program, the tried-and-true formula for reporting on Iran left a long-lasting bad taste in my mouth. For all the talk of change in Iran and hope for the future, the report kept going back to suspicions that have remained the same for decades: the Iranians are not like us, they hate us [insert footage of flag-burning], they want to hurt us [insert footage of crowd shouting, “Death to America”], they want nuclear weapons, they make women wear things on their heads [insert footage of women walking in chadors]. Dateline, it’s been done. Over and over.

Like Khamenei said, “If you change, we too will change.” So put up or shut up, Dateline.