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A review of americas response to the iranian hostage crisis

CosciaAug 20 2016, 743 views This content was written by a student and assessed as part of a university degree. For over a year, the American public fixated its eyes on the crisis in Tehran, and what was once a country that barely received a fleeting glance from the United States would become the eternal recipient of its chilling glare.

American public opinion has consistently and vehemently opposed Iran since 1980, with a disapproval rating that has unfailingly hovered between seventy-five and ninety percent for the last few decades.

Before delving into the media coverage of the complex event, it is imperative to briefly provide a background of the events surrounding the Iran hostage crisis.

  • His brother Siamak was coming home, he told them;
  • The coverage of the events served the captors in their cause, providing free advertising for airing their grievances against the United States, in return for a thrilling drama that would attract viewers and thus dive profits;
  • Because secularism drives American politics and the coverage thereof, American citizens were predisposed to have a visceral aversion to the leakage of religious motivation into political or military endeavors;
  • The same day as the prisoner trade, the United States lifted sanctions against Iran.

Although the hostage-takers released thirteen women and African Americans two weeks later, fifty-two Americans remained hostages for over a year. As a result, the fifty-two individual hostages became what Nightline deemed an entire nation held hostage.

Iran Hostage Crisis

Iran, through the eyes of the United States, was no longer a nation, but a breeding ground for radicalism, extremism, Islamism, and anti-Americanism. The hostage crisis was, essentially, the only event that Americans at the time associated with Iran, because it was the only occurrence of the media extensively covering an Iranian event.

Its press coverage is inherently ethnocentric and views events in other countries through the lens of its own liberal, democratic, and free ideals. Because secularism drives American politics and the coverage thereof, American citizens were predisposed to have a visceral aversion to the leakage of religious motivation into political or military endeavors.

  • The negotiations behind the 2016 deal began as a quest to recover Levinson, they said;
  • Media networks worked to make ordinary Americans feel as though they too were the victims of acts of terrorism, by individualizing the hostages and focusing on the private sphere of their lives as citizens serving their country.

This coverage, in turn, spawned a generalized image of the entire Iranian populous that will later be discussed at length. Early on in the 444 days, the mass media turned an impersonal number, fifty-two, into fifty-two humanized individuals: Newspapers and television shows reported the everyday routines of the hostage-takers and hostages to evoke sympathy, detailing how the hostages were blindfolded, beaten, handcuffed, interrogated, and isolated.

The guards fired their weapons, but they were not loaded. Then the guards laughed. Why did they do it? The United States could not separate this situation from its commitment to individual rights, and could not reconcile the inhumane treatment of the hostages with their belief that no one should receive cruel and unusual punishment nor punishment without a fair trial and due process.

In addition to broadcasting the stories of the hostages themselves, American television networks further investigated the lives of the fateful fifty-two by interviewing their family members as another tactic to generate sympathy for the hostages and empathy for their loved ones.

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The American public related to the hostages who had families, hometowns, and hobbies—just like they did! Instead of referring to them as students, the media labeled them as militants, extremists, radicals, and Islamists—classifications that carry provocative and adverse connotations. It is also imperative to note what the United States press ignored in its preoccupation with the fanaticism and fundamentalism of the hostage crisis: After Khomeini announced that he supported the students and their takeover of the embassy, he became a prominent scapegoat for the hostage crisis and the recipient of American hatred and disgust.

  1. Penguin Books, 2013 , 172-3. Here, he stands with U.
  2. The negotiations behind the 2016 deal began as a quest to recover Levinson, they said.
  3. Christine Levinson, the wife of Robert Levinson, and their son Daniel Levinson share a photograph of the missing former FBI agent during a news conference at Switzerland's embassy in Tehran in December 2007.
  4. John Bolton, former U. During a trip to Iran in July 2015, he was blocked from leaving the country, and over the next three months, was repeatedly interrogated.
  5. Iran-aligned militias release the remaining three American hostages in ensuing weeks. It takes the United States years to acknowledge he was on a U.

Now that this discourse has established the causes and content of American media coverage of the hostage crisis, it can assess the consequences that this journalistic assault on Iran had on its reputation in and relationship with the United States. There are several tangible ways in which the United States manifested its negative perception of Iran.

Despite his tremendous diplomatic and military efforts to rescue the hostages, American discontent with Iran was so pernicious that citizens made a scapegoat of Carter and took out their frustration in domestic polls.

Most obviously, the economic sanctions, freezing of Iranian assets, banning the import of Iranian oil, and the break of diplomatic relations with Iran displayed governmental condemnation that, in turn, spawned civilian condemnation. In addition to general estrangement from the international community, transnational organizations issued formal disapprobation against Iran.

America’s unending hostage crisis with Iran

Its tendency to generalize and view foreign events through the lens of liberal, secular, Western democracy primed the press to disseminate defaming coverage about the hostage crisis. Seeing as how weighty friction and hostility persists between the United States and Iran today, studying the origins of this tension is undoubtedly a worthy endeavor.

Culture, Media and U. Interests in the Middle East, 1945—2000 Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. Atlantic Monthly Press, 20069. Penguin Books, 2013172-3. Dorman and Mansour Farhang, The U. Foreign Policy and the Journalism of Deference Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987196.