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December 15, 2007

IRAN: LOGO TV FAILS MAKWAN--AGAIN!

The following is a response to the letter written for Queerty by Jason Bellini (right), newsJason_bellini1   anchor of LOGO, the national gay TV network that is owned by Viacom/MTV, in response to a criticism of LOGO I'd written earlier:

Dear Jason,
     I just caught a re-run of the December 10 news broadcast you hosted on LOGO in which you dealt with the execution of 21-year-old Makwan Moloudzadeh in Iran -- the broadcast you boasted about in the letter you wrote for Queerty replying to my criticism of the half-hour, end-of-the-year news review for ignoring the persecution and execution of Iranian LGBTers, including Makwan, in its discussion of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It's a slightly belated addition to my first rejoinder to your letter, now that I've had a chance to see the Makwan piece to which you referred.

Makwan_moloudzadehThere's nothing in that LOGO report on Makwan (left) that anyone should have the chutzpah to boast about, however. You devoted about four sentences and 15 seconds to Makwan, and confined your report to saying he was executed for an act of sodomy committed when he was 13. Period.

No mention of the fact that there was NO evidence presented against Makwan, or that the plaintiffs against him had all recanted, in court, their statements to police about Makwan, and said they were false and had been extracted under pressure (under torture, reported the courageous Iranian journalist who covered the case.)

No mention on your air that the verdict was based solely on the supposition of the clerical judge who sentenced him to death, or of the other whopping irregularities in his trial. And no mention that the verdict was a violation of international law. Not a word.

No mention, either, of the fact that the trial was denounced as a horrific miscarriage of justice by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Gay and Paula_ettelbrick Lesbian Human Rights Commission --  whose executive director, Paula Ettelbrick (left), had said (in a press release issued well before your broadcast, as were the condemnations of the trial and verdict by AI and HRW), "This is a shameful and outrageous travesty of justice and international human rights law. How many more young Iranians have to die before the international community takes action?" That's a fairly pithy and highly significant indictment of Makwan's execution and makes the point that Makwan's is only one of many executions of LGBT people in Iran (the very point I took LOGO to task for omitting in your end-of-the year news review.) It would have taken only another 5 seconds to include those two sentences from IGLHRC in your report. But you and your producers ignored IGLHRC's view of the case entirely.

LOGO is supposed to be a gay network -- yet it doesn't see fit to report what the leadingHossein_alizadeh  U.S. gay organization on international issues, which has a native Iranian staff member, the excellent Hossein Alizadeh (right), said about Makwan's murder by the Iranian regime?

The European Union had already denounced the trial and asked the Iranian government to halt the execution, and denounced it afterwards, again before your broadcast. No mention of that -- or of the protests from the governments of a half-dozen other countries led by France -- on your broadcast either.

It's now December 15, and you haven't bothered to update your Makwan report -- LOGO is still running the hugely outdated and abbreviated one from five days previously. My own extensive report  -- including a lengthy interview with the only Iranian journalist to have covered the case -- appeared on December 6, just one day after the execution, and four days before your broadcast. You're a New Yorker, New York is the h.q. of LOGO's news operation, and I presume that either you or someone on the LOGO news staff are on the e-mail list of New York's Gay City News, for which I wrote my report, and which advance-posted it and sent out an e-mail alert about it. I even sent you a link to the article myself as soon as it was posted. Yet, although a wealth of detail about the trial, and the denunciation of this fake verdict by IGHLRC etc. well before your broadcast, were in my readily available article, not a hint of any of this found its way into LOGO's report. But even if you or your colleagues didn't see my report for some strange reason, surely you got IGLHRC's press release. And may I remind you that your on-air report came only AFTER I'd already written to you to protest your failure to even mention Makwan and the many other executions of LGBT people in Iran in the Ahmadinejad segment of LOGO's Top Ten Stories of the Year broadcast, which didn't even say that homosexuality is a capital crime in Iran.

You barely had to take a breath to deliver your blink-of-an-eye "item" on the Makwan case, so brief and devoid of facts was it. If this is LOGO's idea of the way a gay network should have reported on the tragic and inexcusable hanging of Makwan, I find that sad and depressing.

You and your colleagues did make time, however, to air (and as the broadcast's lead piece, no less) an interview with Mike Jones, the prostitute who says Larry Craig once hired him -- and a fellow whom the man who first outed Craig, Mike Rogers of blogactive.com, who knows more about the case than anyone, judges to be an unreliable witness on Craig (after all, Jones' dubious hop onto the bandwagon of Craig case publicity, which has been huge in all media, came just at the moment he has a book to sell --  pure coincidence I'm sure.) Compare LOGO's three-minute piece on the questionable assertions of Jones to the hiccup you gave to Makwan in the same broadcast, and I'd call that a very wrongly skewed prioritization of what's news.

If you'd like to catch up on what you missed on the execution of Makwan Moloudzadeh, my article on the state murder of Makwan has been updated and is available at
http://gaycitynews.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19092040&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=6
It contains significant fresh reporting, including a lengthy interview with Makwan's lawyer (as well as my earlier interview with the only Iranian journalist to cover the case in the Iranian pess. Makwan's lawyer underscores in even more detail why the trial was not only a farce but the verdict illegal even under Iranian law. Pity no mention of that made its way onto LOGO's air.

Your half-hour broadcast is titled, "CBS News on LOGO." CBS News, of course, has resources that dwarf mine and those of Gay City News --  including people on the ground in Tehran and a host of researchers. Which makes the failure of the LOGO broadcast you hosted to properly cover the Makwan case or to provide even a minimum of information about the cooked verdict that put a noose around the poor lad's neck all the more inexplicable.

Yours, Doug

Posted by Direland at 12:15 PM | Permalink

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