The United States leveled sanctions on Wednesday against the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, the foremost purveyor of Iranian propaganda. The IRIB is a gigantic umbrella group that controls radio and television throughout the state, and they broadcast a number of the country's national and international stations — including Press TV, which we see here in the United States — as well as regime channels that were in rotation in Europe until the EU doled out its own set of sanctions. Pierre Pablavi, a professor at the Department of the Defence Studies of the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, summed up the IRIB's clous in The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs:
The U.S., according to Reuters, is officially censoring the IRIB because of censorship: "U.S. law permits the Treasury Department to sanction anybody in Iran it believes restricts the flow of information to the Iranian public." But censorship is just one part of the Iranian TV propaganda machine. Through its channels like Press TV, the IRIB has also put out some truly absurd versions of news stories in the past year. Here are some of our favorites over the past six months or so:
The headline was almost ridiculous enough, really — "US Frankensteins Product of Culture." But as The Atlantic Wire pointed out at the time, Press TV's "analyst" wasn't calling mass shooters like James Holmes any sort of sci-fi name. The IRIB writer, though, did sub in the word "Frankensteins" for "psychotics." And then it got used a bunch more times. Go figure, we guess
August 9, 2012: The Time They Turned an Olympic Logo Into an Offensive Symbol of... Zionism?
To be clear, the image on the right is manipulated. And that manipulated image is apparently what Iranian citizens saw. "The move came as internet users started seeing 'Zion' in the logo almost immediately after its launch. Iran’s objection is the latest in a long list of controversies that the logo has triggered since it was unveiled in 2007," wrote Press TV. We didn't see the "Zion" part until the IRIB came along.
October 30, 2012: The Time They Turned Hurricane Sandy into The Day After Tomorrow
As we've pointed out about this absurd story, it's pretty much total bunk. C'mon, the before and after photos aren't even the same monkey! But Iran, for now, is sticking to its story and saying it was a mixup at the network — not the space ministry.
February 4, 2013: The Time They Made Up a Stealth Fighter
As we detailed this week, the IRIB trumped up this radar-proof new "super" jet... without mentioning that the plane is really tiny. Like way too tiny for humans to fly it.
All in all, the new sanctions from Treasury is mostly about cutting off Iran's oil earnings. "The sanctions prevent Iran from repatriating earnings it gets from its shrinking oil export trade," reports Reuters, adding that "Washington is trying to curtail Iran's oil revenues and access to them in an effort to slow its nuclear program, which the West believes is aiming to develop weapons." So crippling the country's (slightly humorous) propaganda might just be a (sad) byproduct.