Last night, as Iran launched 15 missiles at two Iraqi military bases, we truly got a chance to the see the American media at its worse.
First, it was announced that hundreds of missiles were being launched. Then, on MSNBC, a reporter shared that at least 30 American soldiers had been killed. Where did these numbers come from? The Iranian government, which had every reason to spread disinformation last night.
Pictures and videos of the bombing started to show up online and on television. We saw bombs exploding and buildings on fire. It looked terrifying but, it turned out, that none of it was filmed during last night’s attack. Instead, these were pictures of previous military attacks. (One was apparently a picture of a fire at an oil drill.) These images were released by Iran and then were shared, without any apparent skepticism, by the U.S. media.
After about an hour of panic, the truth finally emerged. Iran’s attack was a pathetic attempt to save face. There were no casualties. Iran even gave Iraq advance warning. In the end, more Iranians were killed during the funeral for Qasem Soleimani than coalition force members were injured during the bombing. A Ukraine International Airlines flight may have been accidentally shot down by Iran, killing all 176 of the people aboard.
In other words, last night was not a triumph for Iran but, for at least a few hours, we were led to believe that 1) several Americans had been killed and 2) World War III had begun. And why? Because instead of getting confirmation, people ran with unconfirmed rumors and propaganda. In a world where the media actually held itself accountable, people would be getting fired today.
Give credit where credit is due. One of the few public figures to actually have the right response to last night’s attacks was Joe Biden. Here’s what he said on twitter:
That was the correct response and, for once, everyone could learn something from Joe’s example. Of course, they won’t.