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Web Rigging

President Obama’s response to this Huffington Post question about Iran seems sensible enough. Shame it’s marred by such a cringe-inducing and back-slapping set-up:

BO: “Since we are on Iran, I know that Nico Pitney is here from Huffington Post. Nico, I know that you – and all across the Internet – we’ve been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?”

NP: “Yeah I did. But I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian. We solicited questions last night from people who were still courageous enough to be communicating online, and one of them wanted to ask you this … “

And we reckon Iranian democracy is a sham.

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#1 Comment By Septimus Waugh On June 24, 2009 @ 2:04 am

Interesting, but there is no question that the votes were never counted . A result with so many people voting could never have been arrived at in a matter of a few hours. The election was a sham. Should the rest of the world comment about it? It makes no differnce either way. By rigging the election so outrageously the Iranian government has expressed its contempt for the democratic world. Reject their decision and you are labeled the Great Satan, accept it and you accept their contempt. Neither position is a good one from which to negotiate, so the leaders of the west might as well maintain their integrity by condemning it. Bianca in response to Philip Giraldi’s blog maintains that Khameni and Ahmadinajad have swept away corruption in Iran, but money is only one form of corruption. The deceit of organising democratic elections and falsifying the results is no less corrupt.

#2 Comment By WRW On June 24, 2009 @ 10:42 am

Can’t they even pretend? All that was missing was the President finishing with “take my wife . . .please.”

#3 Comment By me On June 24, 2009 @ 11:51 am

Ever since obama starting looking hot in the primaries, the media threw off their veneer of objectivity. Who is bed with whom? Its hard to tell, but our media increasingly has a eerie semblance to pravda.

#4 Comment By Winston On June 24, 2009 @ 11:56 am

This post and WRW’s comment are absurd. I suggest you read these three items, among others, to get the context for this little episode in Obama’s press conference:




#5 Comment By RK On June 24, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

Septimus Waugh

I know I am supposed to ignore Counterpunch, but the planets and labels are so aligned that even Alexander Cockburn is writing for Chronicles magazine. The counterpoint to your “A result with so many people voting could never have been arrived at in a matter of a few hours” is:



There were a total of 45,713 ballot boxes that were set up in cities, towns and villages across Iran. With 39.2 million ballots cast, there were less than 860 ballots per box. Unlike other countries where voters can cast their ballots on several candidates and issues in a single election, Iranian voters had only one choice to consider: their presidential candidate. Why would it take more than an hour or two to count 860 ballots per poll? After the count, the results were then reported electronically to the Ministry of the Interior in Tehran.

Now, I have no clue as to whether any of this is true. The Mossad chief Dagan says: “Election fraud in Iran is no different than what happens in liberal states during elections. The struggle over the election results in Iran is internal and is unconnected to its strategic aspirations, including its nuclear program.”

When you write “leaders of the west might as well maintain their integrity,” I had to laugh out loud. Really??!! After all these meddling in the cesspool of the near east over all these years??!!

Iraq, Afghanistan any one during current times?

They have “democratic” elections in countries that are supposed to be the allies of the west eg., Saudi Arabia, Egypt. I didn’t read you pontificating about rigging and corruption there. I suppose they were “clean” to your standards. I suppose the leaders of the west maintained their “moral integrity” during those elections since those elections conformed to what you consider as pat of the “democratic world.”

Heck, they actually had something called an election in Gaza which would have qualified under your implied criteria of “democratic world” and the “leaders of the west with moral integrity” promptly imposed sanctions because they did not like guys who won the elections.

It is a heart breaking tragedy that the young woman Neda was murdered in cold blood by the government thugs. But it is no less tragic when scores of civilians are killed in an air strike by a drone in Afghanistan on Obama’s approval, that too during a funeral. Except that there are no twitters sending messages and iPhones beaming up the images from Afghanistan.

Personally, I would listen to George Washington on his warnings on entangling alliances. I know, it is all old fashioned for people like you, but you know what, it has actually worked in the course of history and there is no reason it won’t work now.

#6 Comment By Winston On June 24, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

oops – meant this to be the third item:


#7 Comment By WRW On June 24, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

That’s the best you can do? Pathetic. The justifications are essentially “everyone else does it.” Indeed, if anything, this is more pathetic by the Obama Administration. Instead of the dottering dowager of the WH press claque, we get anonymous propaganda from the “Iranian people” via the twit-heads. Who is this Iranian? Is our President getting spun? None of that matters because it came from a Twit via the website of a political Zsa-Zsa Gabor.

Thanks for putting me in my place.

But as for Cockburn’s explanation of the speedy ballot counts in Iran, come on. We can’t do counts that fast here on paper ballots. How many poll workers were there? When did they start counting? Where did they count?

Fact is, we’re getting played by both sides. And Obama looks like he’ll be drawn in after initially playing it safe.

#8 Comment By Winston On June 24, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

“Against stupidity even the Gods contend in vain.” But you deserve one last try, WRW. Of course linking to this publication may make this site explode:


#9 Comment By RK On June 24, 2009 @ 3:57 pm


The article I referred to was not by Cockburn, but Esam Al-Amin in counterpunch.org. As I mentioned before, I have no clue as to whether any of it is true or not. None of us know with any reasonable certainty on the real mechanisms of “democratic elections” in the near east.

Hence my objection to Mr Waugh’s definitive and conclusive statements on what he considers as a sham and outrageously rigged election in one near eastern country of his choice, and him talking about the leaders of the western leaders maintaining their integrity by condemning it.

Can you imagine associating the term “integrity” with leaders like Obama, McCain, Graham, Brown, Cameron, Merkel, Berlusconi, Sarkozy etc?!

We don’t have a horse in this fight. It is none of our business. If he wants to explore the “deceit of organising democratic elections and falsifying the results,” I suggest Mr. Waugh start analyzing “democratic elections” in many of the near eastern countries that are allied to the West and see how the leaders of the west maintained their supposed integrity during those elections.

#10 Comment By Septimus Waugh On June 24, 2009 @ 5:05 pm

RK I agree that the west has no great track record in integrity, but at least there is a potentially fresh start every few years, and Obama has not yet been tainted by realpolitik on the world stage. Alas, It looks like he is going that way.

#11 Comment By D On June 25, 2009 @ 8:36 am

If the question was sensible enough, how does it matter what was said before hand?

The White House made no secret of the fact that they wanted Mr. Pitney there specifically with reference to his work on reporting the Iranian situation. What did Mr. Obama say that was so objectionable? Everything Mr. Obama said about the Huffingtonpost’s coverage (which involved diligently building up individual contacts, doing enormous verification, reading the equivalent of 50-60 newspapers in terms of data, coordinating with hundreds of different individual, working 18-19 hours a day). They (and Mr. Sullivan at The Atlantic) did it at a time when nobody else was able to tell us anything.

I find the implied equivalence quite ridiculous. The argument seems to be “This is a planted question. Therefore it must be a sham. Therefore its not a real question.” Thats why the question and the response “seems to be sensible enough”. This isn’t Jeff Gannon, neither is it Mr. Hannity of one of his proxies over at the Fox News Channel. There is no equivalence between the Bush-Fox association and anything by this White House.

And it was a good question. It was a tough question. Tougher than the sanctimonius nonsense emanating from the front bench of the press corp (The theatrically pompous Chip Reid – “What took you so long”, and the silly Chuck Todd going into Chumphood with his eyes wide open).

Why is it a pity that there was a preamble to the question? Is it merely because Obama is a “liberal” and this is the American Conservative?

Why can’t you get over this kind of residual partisanship?

#12 Comment By WRW On June 25, 2009 @ 9:41 am

I will write this slowly, so you can understand it. This escapade is as phony as a three dollar bill. How the hell do you or anyone else know this is a “real Iranian”? How do you know this isn’t a piece of propagandistic manipulation by one of the political factions in Iran (if it was even an Iranian)? And how is the “unfiltered questioning” of anonymous internet users at all useful to constructing policy?

That the media flacks who goo-goo at the President are useless has been stated more clearly on this website than that of the post-modern “humanitarian intervention” crowd at the Nation. But that doesn’t mean staged questions from anonymous people somehow improves the integrity of that system. It only makes it more vulnerable to manipulation.

And, even if this were an Iranian, how is our discourse improved by partisan questioning from a member of the Westernized elite in Iran? (Or are you ignorant enough to think “ordinary Iranians” are Twits?)

Just another example of the phonied up hype around “Web 2.0.” Like the drivel that emanates from the Nation, and as amply demonstrated by the shallow and fawning adulation heaped on the Obama by his internet minions, the internet mostly produces a partisan echo chamber of uninformed talking points, and real independent voices are ignored just as easily as in the mainstream media. Witness the amount of attention the “Zsa Zsa” Post gets versus this website.

Hope I didn’t go too fast for you.

#13 Comment By WRW On June 25, 2009 @ 9:50 am

D said, “And it was a good question. It was a tough question. ”

Yeah, right. It read, “And if you do accept the election isn’t that a betrayal. . .” blah, blah, blah–of our political faction.

What utter nonsense. “Verification.” Whatever. You can’t “verify” anything on the internet except IP addresses that you can track back to IP hosts. So you can confirm it was sent by a server in Iran. Big deal. By whom?

And so the rest of the press corps, with their lemming-like embrace of the “democracy” narrative, are just as bad. So what.

All it means is that Zsa-Zsa Post now gets to play along with the rest of the lemmings.

Oh, and the intro from the Zsa-Zsa Post “reporter” that the question came from a “real Iranian” (what does that mean) who was still “brave enough” to post online. Hmm, that the poster was “still” willing to post online wouldn’t perhaps imply that it’s not an “ordinary” Iranian and is perhaps a member of part of the elite running an intel program against the US via Zsa-Zsa Post?

The only thing more ridiculous than the media hordes uncritical embrace of the Obama is its unthinking embrace of a “democracy movement” about which it knows nothing.