A stray comment from a CNN reporter is emerging as a possible window into the mindset of the Iranian people amid growing anti-government protests.
CNN’s Erin Burnett was talking with Republican Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio about recent developments in Iran when she said there was a dissonance in Iran between public actions and private comments.
“I will say, I was in Tehran when they were chanting ‘death to America’ once. I was at a rally, the people couldn’t have been more friendly to me personally as an American. It sort of felt like a thing and a trope as opposed to anything that was actually seriously meant and considered. I understand your point, but my experience was different,” she said.
THIS IS CNN
The people chanting “Death to America” “couldn’t have been more friendly”.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) January 11, 2020
Turner agreed that the leadership and people in Iran could be on different wavelengths. But the deadly intentions of the Iranian government toward the United States have made themselves obvious over the 40 years since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 — something the 43-year-old Burnett should be aware of, he said.
“Erin, your entire life, Iran — pretty much your entire life, just by a few years, has chanted death to America and they have taken actions against Americans and American interests and in ways that are lethal killings of Americans, given weaponry to people who do kill Americans,” Turner said.
“So, it’s not just a slogan. This obviously is something that Iran has systematically continued to do …
“These are real threats from the leadership of Iran, even though and I’m glad you had a safe and warm response, the people on the street may be different than those who are controlling their military,” Turner said.
See more of the interview here. The “death to America” exchange starts about the 30-second mark:
Some questioned Burnett’s comments, coming as they did from CNN, which has been stoutly opposed to President Donald Trump and his policies.
And some wonder why people don’t trust the media? pic.twitter.com/WRI7aibOwO
— Mary Vought (@MaryVought) January 11, 2020
Plumbing the depths of anti-government attitudes in Iran became a major concern after protests that broke out Saturday in Tehran following Iran’s admission that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people aboard. Initially, Iran’s government had claimed the plane suffered technical problems.
As reported by the Voice of America, Iranian students called for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to step down and also criticized Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose recent funeral filled the streets of Tehran.
“Soleimani is a murderer, his leader a traitor,” the protesters chanted.
Protesters refused to step on U.S. and Israeli flags painted on the street and called out, “Our enemy is right here, they lie saying it’s America.”
Large crowds are gathering on Tehran’s Azadi Street on this second day of anti-regime protests in Iran.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) January 12, 2020
The terrorist Qasem Soleimani is only loved by democrats & Mullahs in Iran, NOT even by the real Iranian people.
A fearless woman protester ripped off Soleimani’s banner over the pole.
— Iranian American (@IranLionness) January 12, 2020
The people of Iran are aware of the corruption of their Ayatollah’s regime. They have taken to the streets in protest chanting “death to liars”.
Meanwhile: radically left American psychopaths have spent the last two weeks pleading & apologizing. https://t.co/Vpwe3daRE1
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) January 11, 2020
Iran deployed riot police and tear gas to disperse the protesters, according to The Guardian.
“To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!” Trump wrote.
To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2020
One commentator said Iran could be at a crossroads.
Are the Iranian people prisoners of their leaders?
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“This is an unprecedented moment in the history of the Islamic Republic,” Milad Odabaei of McGill University said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Traditionally it uses external threats to create national unity and push away dissent.
“Now, [Iran] has to play a tightrope, and is unable to gain the trust of the public and gather legitimacy. Its ability to draw on international hostility to create a national front is radically limited,” he said.
Iran had just been recovering from a wave of anti-government protests in November. The U.S.-based Center for Human Rights in Iran estimated that in November protests, at least 304 people were killed, with up to 7,000 people arrested.
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