May 19, 2006

Drudge Report Duped by "Iran Badges" Story

(Toledo, OH) Numerous websites - including the Drudge Report - fell victim to a piece of disinformation about the government of Iran today that was likely hatched by Iranian exiles in Canada.

Matt Drudge's site blared the headline "IRAN EYES BADGES FOR JEWS, CHRISTIANS" from about 11:00 am until 5:00 pm EST. The site has since removed the link to the original article.

The Canadian paper National Post began the rumor-mongering this morning with a report that a new law has been passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews, Christians, and other religious minorities to wear colored badges to identify them as non-Muslims.

The paper quoted Iranian expatriates living in Canada who said that that the Iranian parliament - the Islamic Majlis - passed a law this week that also set a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear nearly identical "standard Islamic garments" instead of Western-style clothing.

The paper has since taken down the story and issued a new article with the headline: "Experts say report of badges for Jews in Iran is untrue." The Drudge Report simply made the link evaporate without any explanation, and its many thousands of daily visitors have been misinformed.

Numerous Iranian sources have denounced the misleading story in the past few hours.

My calls seeking an official statement from the Iranian embassy and state news agency IRNA have been forwarded, and responses to emails I sent have yet to be answered. I have not yet received a response from Matt Drudge, either.

Michelle Malkin, who initially plunged into the story, acted in an honorable and responsible fashion by providing updates that kept readers informed of news reports debunking the story. Her 12:20 pm update noted that the "Report may not be true."


Addendum, 7:56 pm: I just received the following statement from Fariborz Jahansoozan, director of the Iranian Embassy in Washington, DC:

Dear Mr. Brooks: It is nonsense and categorically denied. Are you inquiring about the so-called article that has apparently appeared in a Canadian tabloid? Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.




Canadian reader said...

Holy shit! Nice work, Mike.

historymike said...

Thanks, CR.

historymike said...

Text of my email to the Drudge Report:

I am a journalist working on the "Iran Badges" story, which appears to be in the process of being debunked.

I would greatly appreciate a statement regarding the following:

1. What made you decide to remove the link to the original story in the National Post?
2. Do you feel that your headline was accurate, and that it represented the fact that the story was based upon comments by Iranian exiles?
3. Conversely, do you believe the Drudge Report was duped?
4. Do you plan to issue a retraction?


Michael Brooks

Petrograde said...

I've been checking in on this all day. You have done yeoman work covering this, mister. Hold Drudge's feet to the fire. I bet he'll duck you, though.

Lisa Renee said...

Drudge does this often, so I wouldn't hold my breath. Same with most of the blogosphere, a huge rush to judgement and very few if any of those will retract.

That's why sometimes it's better to not be first but at least to be the first one who is right.


Anonymous said...

You should write Drudge ten emails a day until he answers Mike.

Petrograde said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ToledoNative said...

It just cracks me up, the way the 'old media' think that they can put a load of crap like this out there. Obviously they think that the 'new media' and bloggers are not going to get wise to them.

WRONG! Keep fighting the b@stards, Mike!

historymike said...

Thanks, all. I have no interest in bombarding Drudge with emails, but I am extending him the courtesy of a response, which I will print if it is sent.

Anonymous said...

Everything I read on Drudge I take with a grain of salt. He gets things fast, but often f**ks up and posts gossip.

liberal_dem said...

Drudge gets dumped on. Gosh, how sad.

Anonymous said...

Homeland security's gonna get ya now, Mike, for contacting the Iranian embassy. Better not be flying any time soon!

Anonymous said...

Oh Michelle Malkin honorable!??!

The Princess of Propaganda, The Peddler of Paranoia?

She slimes a whole group of people with the actions of a few-put because they're Mexican and Democrats want to appease the unoins-I guess you can call her "honorable".

Pathetic-you call yourself a journalist? Malkin wouldn't know ethics if they hit her upside the head.

historymike said...

Ummm, anonymous?

I may detest Malkin's politics (and I do), but if she gets something right, I will point it out.

Journalists don't spew forth opionions unless they are writing editorials. I am reporting the information in a clear, fair, and unbiased manner.

Before ripping on me, you might want to lern the difference between reporting and commentary.

Anonymous said...

F**K DR***GE

City Troll said...

Hey Mike are these the same Iranians that are denying they want Nuclear Energy to build a Bomb? LOL

historymike said...

City Troll:

I have no way of verifying what Iran's nuclear intentions are, but that is irrelevant to this story.

Despite denials by Iranian officials, and publication of the text of the legislation, some people STILL want to believe the "Jew Badges" story is true.

Oh - did I forget to mention? The National Post retracted the story that started the whole brouhaha and replaced it with an accurate debunking of its own rumor.

The only sites still spouting off about the story are those who do not know it has been debunked.

City Troll said...

yet the Jerusalem post still has both the story and the Iranian denials, there are also quotes from the original 2004 law that was passed and then blocked with those provisions in it in The Ha retz,

As for the Iranian nuclear intentions being relevant well that shows an extreme lack of depth and credibility on your end. The whole issue with Iran is it's continued threats to Israel and the US and it's on going push to develop it's own nuclear weapons.

Iran has been the heart and funding for the worlds terror network since 1979 whether Shiite or Sunni. You may find it hard to believe that a nation that openly states that it wants all Jews dead and all non-muslims to convert to sharia law or die Is incapable of requiring Jews that live in its boundries to wear arm bands, but any sane person wouldn't.

Anyway your whole take is not whether the story is true or not but whether it's something you can use to cast stones at Drudge and the right.

historymike said...

Wrong, oh aptly-named City Toll.

I care about truth. Period.

This story is a pile of journalistic crap, and Drudge was wrong to blast this headline.

Unbeknownst to you, who just showed up on this site, I am no cartoon liberal.

I belong to no political party, and I take to task stupidity on the left and right.

My political opinions are as likley to be those associated with traditionally right-wing thought as they are with the left.

Finally, if you actually READ the post, you will note that I praised Michelle Malkin - goddess of the right - in the same post that I took to task Drudge.

Saskboy said...

I got a kick out of them calling the National Post a tabloid.

It's like calling the USA Today a tabloid... oh.

historymike said...

Also, City Troll:

The Jerusalem Post article you cite is derived almost wholly from the National Post story, which was retracted.

PErhaps the Jerusalem Post has not read the debunking.

Or perhaps they do not care.

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

I wonder if we receive news too fast these days. There's no time to digest information, to look at the different points of view, to think before we act. Case in point----the Duke rape case. People flip-flopped daily depending on what was reported.

Dariush said...

Does anyone remember Drudge's "scoop" when the Columbine massacre was going down? Apparently the Trenchcoat Mafia was really part of a vast, militant poofter underground, lashing out in vengeance at hetero society.

Kurt said...

I find this interesting. I agree to some extent with city troll that this post is motivated somewhat by personal intrest. The Drudge Report posts links to stories that are out there, from other sources. I'm curious as to why you have taken this opportunity to go after Drudge. I'm not judging here, I'm merely asking why you continue to attack Drudge after he took down the link which he realized was false.

MonicaR said...

This is looney commentor talk:

"Homeland security's gonna get ya now, Mike, for contacting the Iranian embassy. Better not be flying any time soon!"

More looney commentor:

"The Princess of Propaganda, The Peddler of Paranoia?" (about Michelle Malkin)

History Mike - you write a statement like this: "I may detest Malkin's politics (and I do)..."

and then come out with this:"My political opinions are as likley to be those associated with traditionally right-wing thought as they are with the left."

So which is it? Also - it's nice to see that you are so trusting of Iranian officials. I'll remember that next time I need to sell some swamp land. As for me - who knows if the story is true? Let's wait and see however I do NOT trust statements coming out of Iranian officials at this time.

Anonymous said...

Iran: Lawmakers Debate Women's Clothing
Associated Press May 20, 2006

... Emad Afroogh, the legislator who sponsored the bill and is chairman of Parliament's Cultural Committee, said that the Canadian report was untrue and that the measure sought only to make women dress more conservatively and avoid Western fashions. Another lawmaker, Morris Motamed, a Jew, also said the Canadian report was false.

ALSO NOT TRUE Holocaust "historian" Edwin Black claimed that Iran was responsible for the Holocaust. But see Iran, Jews and the Holocaust: An answer to Mr. Black by Dr Abbas Milani of Stanford University.

More about Jews of Iran:
1- Jews in Iran Describe a Life of Freedom, Christian Science Monitor, February 03, 1998

2- Polish Jews were given refuge in Iran during WWII
Associated Press
Thursday, November 23, 2000

3- Iranian Jews PREFER Tehran to Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem Post Nov. 3, 2005

City Troll said...

The fact that you are to indecisive to pick a party to belong to is no badge of honor..

as for your so called praise of MM what you said was you don't agree with her political point of view but you credit her when she is right. Thats a pretty large blanket statement about her political views from someone who says they are neither right or left. Instead of assuming I didn't read your post, you should develop the ability to read the comments before you respond. In your comment you said no other paper still had the story posted I named 2. You also didn't address the Haretz that cited it was part of a 2004 law.
You also have side steped the Iranian issue as a whole. Face it your just poking holes at Drudge and doing it poorly at that. While you just troll around the net looking for anyone that has a post on this story to throw a one line disclamer on their post like a petulant child. "Oh look at me I can find a mistake on Drudge" Yet where are your letters to the editors of the canadian or two jewish papers?

If you were motivated by truth your ire would be directed at the sources not Drudge.

You expose yourself with each statement you make displaying for all, your obsessive pettines.

Dariush said...

An excellent follow-up by Kurt Nimmo, summing up the whole bizarre spectacle rather nicely:


It should be noted that the dubious badge story came from "Iranian expatriates," that is to say the Iranian equivalent of Iraqi expatriates (who happened to have close ties to the neocons and the Pentagon) responsible for telling outrageous lies about Saddam and weapons of mass destruction and other chimerical horrors.

"Faced with the sudden prospect of relevance, exile [Iranian] activists are jockeying for recognition from U.S. policy makers," writes Ronald Hilton. "They are touting contacts with the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA. They boast of tete-a-tetes with members of Vice President Dick Cheney's staff…. They prominently display Christmas cards from Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, an early backer of legislation that would provide financial support to the Iranian opposition. In Washington, they're making the rounds like actors looking for an agent…. Some Iranian exiles speculate that someone among them could emerge as the next Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi opposition leader who helped to spur the American invasion of Iraq with his now-discredited intelligence indicating that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed chemical and biological weapons."

In fact, the whole thing stinks like a neocon re-run, more than three years removed. Adding dismal memories of the Holocaust make it all the more repugnant.

Of course, it does not matter if the star of David story blows over or evaporates under the harsh glare of truth — the impression is left indelibly in the minds of millions, especially impressionable Americans: the mullahs of Iran are the New Hitler (right behind Osama and then Saddam) and if we don't "take swift and severe action" against the people of Iran — imagine bunker-busters and mini-nukes bursting over Tehran — these Islamic monsters will "wipe Israel off the map," never mind that Israel has more than 400 nukes and has expressed the desire to use them...

Israel can take care of itself — and it should leave us out of the sordid mess with its neighbors.

Dariush said...

Juan Cole's take on the phantom legislation and black propaganda:


The National Post is owned by Conrad Black and is not a repository of expertise about Iran. it is typical of black psychological operations campaigns that they begin with a plant in an obscure newspaper that is then picked up by the mainstream press. Once the Jerusalem Post picks it up, then reporters can source it there, even though the Post has done no original reporting and has just depended on the National Post article, which is extremely vague in its own sourcing (to "human rights groups").

The actual legislation passed by the Iranian parliament regulates women's fashion, and urges the establishment of a national fashion house that would make Islamically appropriate clothing. There is a vogue for "Islamic chic" among many middle class Iranian women that involves, for instance, wearing expensive boots that cover the legs and so, it is argued, are permitted under Iranian law. The scruffy, puritanical Ahmadinejad and his backers among the hardliners in parliament are waging a new and probably doomed struggle against the young Iranian fashionistas. (The Khomeinists give the phrase "fashion police" a whole new meaning).

There is nothing in this legislation that prescribes a dress code or badges for Iranian religious minorities, and Maurice Motamed was present during its drafting and says nothing like that was even discussed.

The whole thing is a steaming crock.

In fact, Iranian Jewish expatriates themselves have come out against a bombing campaign by the US or Israel against Iran. There are still tens of thousands of Jews in Iran, and expatriate Iranian Jews most often identify as Iranians and express Iranian patriotism. I was in Los Angeles when tens of thousands of Iranians immigrated, fleeing the Khomeini regime. I still remember Jewish Iranian families who suffered a year or two in what they thought of as the sterile social atmosphere of LA, and who shrugged and moved right back to Iran, where they said they felt more comfortable.


"Read the whole thing" as a certain dumbass "law professor" from Tennessee would say.

dusty said...

Who in the blue hell is this "troll" to say anyone is indecisive if they don't pick a party? What a friggin maroon!

You should never be able to tell a journalists party affiliation and/or political leanings by the tone of their article city troll.

There is no shame in being Independant of either the Democraps or the Repubes..suck it up and deal.

Maggie Thurber said...

Actually, I think this whole fiasco is the result of something lacking in the training of journalists over the last several years or so.

It seems as if many reporters (HistoryMike excluded!) believe that they are okay so long as they quote accurately - regardless of the veracity of the statement quoted.

It's one thing to print: "Mr. Smith said his neighbor, Mr. Jones, was a thief." Yes, it's an accurate quote, but if the reporter doesn't check the truth of the quote, the reporter is as much to blame as the speaker if it turns out to be untrue. And this is happening quite a bit lately, especially locally.

But, if all you're doing is providing a link to a story, like Drudge, I think you still need to provide an explanation when you remove the link - OR, change your headline and then link to all the "debunking" articles...

Maggie Thurber said...

Great coverage on this, Mike - thanks!

josh narins said...

City Troll should read the actual IAEA reports, rather than rely on the press reports that rely on them.

Thankfully, Reuters recently pulled its head out of its ass (will City Troll ever do the same?) and printed this line:

"The IAEA has found no hard proof of any project to make atomic bombs" after three years of trying.

historymike said...

Wow. I go to bed and all hell breakks loose here...

Let's see, where to start...


My biggest beef with Drudge is that he blasted the headline in a huge font for seven hours or more. True, he just "liniked" the story, but the hundreds of thousands of people who visited his site were treated to this false story, and it is clear in sampling the posts in the blogosphere that anti-Iranian sentiment was inflamed by Drudge.

Do a Blogger Search and look at the hundreds of posts that have been spawned crying for bombs to drop because of this false story.

Then you will see a reason for my ire. Think of the 1898 Spanish-American War and Hearst.

historymike said...


It is indeed possible to despise Michelle Malkin's anti-immigrant, race-baiting political statements while acknowledging that she acted as a responsible journalist by putting a simple addendum that the story might not be true.

I am not "trusting" of Iranian officials as I am simply noting the facts. The text of the law says nothing - NOTHING - about color-coded badges for non-Muslim religious minorities.

I know it is difficult for some people to think outside their partisan box, but here is a quick sampling of some of my political views:

1. I am pro-gun rights (might make me rightist, although some Dems are embracing the Second Amendment).
2. I am pro-choice (likely makes me a leftist).
3. I am anti-federal government and pro-local government (likely makes me a rightist).
4. I am against the Iraq War (used to make me a definite leftist, but these days...)
5. I rail against wasteful government spending (traditional rightist).
6. I question the ability of our current form of hypercapitalism in which large multinationals are beginning to become extralegal (sounds "loony left," although I argue that Adam Smith and capitalist icons warned of this many years ago).

Just a sampling...

City Troll said...

I find your blog and your views amusing Mike. Especially your Hypercapitalism theory. As a historian you should be more than aware of the role of economics through history, the only two controlling factors that have run throughout history are religion and economics.

Your list that you put up makes you pretty mainstream in your beliefs but your writings tend to lean to a more socialist bent.

historymike said...

City Troll-

"Indecisive"? Hardly. I am non-partisan for several reasons:

1. I am a working journalist, and picking a party might cause a conflict of interest.
2. I have been partisan in the past.
3. No current party adequately meets my political needs.

City Troll, the world is not black/white, Dem/Repub. Many loyal Americans do not belong to a party, and many partisan Americans are able to peacefully coexist and (GASP) even be friendly with members of other parties.

Again, my beef with Drudge is his considerable audience and ability to influence public opinion. While you and I might scan Haaretz or the National Post, most Americans are wholly unfamiliar with these papers unless a Drudge Report points them there.

Ynet news has disavowed the badges story, and the Jerusalem Post is slowly backing away from its earlier claims, although they still have an eye-catching and misleading headline.

As for the rest, I am not interested in a flame war.

historymike said...

Thanks for the excellent links, Dariush. You are one of the most well-read persons I know.

historymike said...

(laughing at Dusty's humorous take on this)

historymike said...

I wholeheartedly agree, Maggie. I am never a fan of the "Hey, we were just quoting Source A" style of journalism.

That is essentially saying that the outlet in question is nothing more than a parrot.

historymike said...

Flame away, City Troll.

Your moniker is very appropriate.

City Troll said...

You call my comments flaming you? Thats curious. I have not just come by and left a one line rant or badgered any of your posters.

As for your beef with Drudge it has colored your writing on this issue whether you see that or not.

The actual story is more propaganda than fact, but as I said you have not directed any of your bile at the sources. I do read between 15-20 different papers from around the world a day plus scanning the net. If others don't have the time or the conviction to do that, that is their loss.

The fact that you can't find it in yourself to state your party or to join one because you are a working journalist does not give your writing any additional credibility. If anything it detracts from it.

If you are a reporter your job is to report Facts of an issue in a non biased manner. Then let the readers decide one way or another.

If however you come at a story from one angle or another you are not a reporter you are a commentater, which is what most people that call themselves journalists are.

historymike said...

OK - so calling someone a "socialist," in this day and age, is not flaming?


How about "indecisive," "petulant child," and "obsessive pettiness?" These are but a few of the terms that you have chosen to attach to me, City Troll.

As far as what I do, I clearly state that this site is a mix of news, commentary, history, and whatever catches my eye.

Some of my posts are straight reporting, while others are commentary. Generally when I comment on a topic, I use a standard essay format in the title, such as "On The President's Immigration Plan."

As far as "what most people that call themselves journalists," I politely disagree. There are a wide variety of terms with which journalists self-describe, and lumping people into one narrow genre.

Finally, once again, I belong to no political party. Period. I may, at some point, join or rejoin a political party. This is not "indecisiveness" or "unwillingness to state" a party.

I state this only because it is who I am, and I am not stating it - as you imply - to give myself "credbility."

As for your view that partisan writers are more credible, that merely speaks to what appears to be partisan horse-blinders on your part.

I find good ideas from people in a wide variety of political viewpoints, and I do not think any one party has a monopoly on intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Mike - don't waste your time on City Troll. He obviously had his mind made up before he even got here that you were a Commie, because YOU DARE TO DISAGREE WITH HIM!

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah - never say a critical word about capitalism if you don't want to be called a communist or a socialist. Close-mided feebs like CT can only think in two dimensions.

M A F said...

Well Mike, it does appear that the sycophants for Bush, City Troll included bought the story and are having a hard time letting it go.

With regard to your comments about Malkin, if I am not mistaken, she is not a journalist. She is somebody who gets paid to opine her political beliefs regardless of the situational or historical facts in the case of Victor Davis Hanson.

As for Drudge, he did his part to give legs to a story that didn't have the ability to stand on its own. While I would love to see you do one last follow-up, I won't be holding my breath as Lisa Renee commented.

historymike said...


Agreed about the longing by pro-war types for this to be true, and how quickly they glommed onto it.

Malkin is in the nether world between true journalism and commentary, but I did want to give her kudos for acknowledging that the story's veracity was questionable.

If Herr Drudge replies, I will do a followup. I will probably do a longer essay here, and perhaps pitch it to some national periodicals on the phenomenon.

MonicaR said...

"It is indeed possible to despise Michelle Malkin's anti-immigrant, race-baiting political statements while acknowledging that she acted as a responsible journalist by putting a simple addendum that the story might not be true."

You need to read my comment again because you obviously didn't understand the question. Either that or you are deliberately being obtuse.

I said nothing about you acknowledging that she was a responsible journalist. I wonder why you would continue to crow about that?

MonicaR said...

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah - never say a critical word about capitalism if you don't want to be called a communist or a socialist. Close-mided feebs like CT can only think in two dimensions.

Saturday, May 20, 2006 12:54:33 PM

Anonymous has a problem with capitalism? What ARE you for anonymous? What type of social/political/economic system would you advocate?

MonicaR said...

historymike said...

Wow. I go to bed and all hell breakks loose here...

Why on earth would you complain about this historymike??!! It's called the joy of blogging. :-)

-Sepp said...

I'll stand with you HM during the stoning you're getting from the troll since I vote independent too. I guess we're just too damn dumb to let one party dictate what flavor of bullshit to feed us.

historymike said...


I think anonymous's statement about capitalism is fair. People who sing the glory and praises of American capitalism and democracy - most famously Franci Fukuyama and "The End of History" - have a short memory.

The roots of modern capitalism are only 400 yers old (VOC - Dutch East India Company), and capitalism really became the dominant form economic organization in the 19th century.

I think the poster's point was that it is possible to criticize the shortcomings of capitalism without necessarily being a socialist or communist.

Heck - even Adam Smith himself noted that there are ways in which capitalism has faults.

If history has any predictive use at all, it is that the odds that capitalism is the end-all and be-all of human economic activity are low. There will likely be SOMETHING to transcend it, as was the case with every other form of socioeconomic organization in the past.

historymike said...

Thanks, Sepp. Too many partisan types - on both sides - forget that much of America is more concerned with what is right for the country than what is right for a particular party.

MonicaR said...

Again - no answer to any of the questions put to you and anonymous. You don't think that's strange? Let's have some DIALOGUE here. That's what this is all about, isn't it? Maybe not.

historymike said...

OK, Monicar - which questions do you feel were unanswered, or need a more complete answer?

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, how in the world do you connect Iranian gov't denials with the the truth of the matter?! Do you really think that an Iranian gov't official is going to say, "Hell, yes, we are requiring Jews to wear badges." The story may indeed be false, but concluding its falsity on the word of an Iranian gov't mouthpiece makes me wonder if you ever heard of Tarqiyya before today. Seriously, how much of what our own government says is pure BS? Think the Iranians are any better?!

historymike said... the text of the law, anonymous. It says nothing about colored badges.

It sounds like some people desperately wish this discredited story was true. That is sad.

Person said...

Anonymous: I think you mean "taqiyyah" not "tarqiyyah". Go and read a few books to find out its real meaning.