I urge you to go the BBC’s iPlayer and catch up with Iran And The West. This is history documentary of the highest order by the legendary Brooke Lapping, with star producers such as Norma Percy, Brian Lapping and Dai Richards.
It tells the compelling story of Iran’s revoution three decades ago and the way that relations between Washington and Tehran seem to have been at the centre of international affairs ever since.
I was privileged to watch part two with a bunch of other media folk, which was apt because it is clear that media coverage was a vital component of the diplomacy. The hostage-taking, for example, was played out through Western media, putting pressure on the governments of France and US to make compromises with Iran.
This series has total access to all the critical people. It was full of wonderful archive and delicious detail. And it reminds us that individuals and happenstance matter. So when the reformist Iranian President Khatami wants to talk to the American people, he choose to talk to CNN,
Now it happens that the chief correspondent of CNN was Christiane Amanpour who was in a romantic relationship with a certain Jamie Rubin, a high up US State Department official. He briefs her on the kind of questions that might elicit a response from Iran that would allow diplomatic wheels to turn.
The so-called CNN Effect is much discussed in media studies circles. Does the media drive diplomacy? Do governments do things to generate media coverage? This vingnette was just a detail in a sweeping drama of geopolitical, religious and military forces. But this documentary reminds us that journalism can tell historic stories as well as play a part in them.
I’ve recorded this series to watch in one go, and am going to back to LSE to hear my ex-professor lecture on Iran After 30 Years on the 23rd. Thanks for the recommendation!
Par 2: The revolution was _three_ decades ago. [Not for publication.]
Nico – you are right and I have edited it – I was obviously refusing to admit that my own adult life is now subject to ‘history’ documentaries….
I helped in the translation of some interviews, and I watched closely how the producers went through so much trouble getting those interviews, but the finished work is absolutely wonderful…one of the most balanced series ever made about Iran and the west, but the third part is the most interesting, the one about nuclear talks..i watched it in a private screening at the Frontiers Club,