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You will exploooode!

I don’t watch much TV news. You can Fox it up as much as you like with waving flags, crashing sound effects and wizbang graphics splattering the screen. Or you can dress it up as something very, very serious. It’s still just TV news - about as nutritious as a microwaved dinner. It’s not always like that and there are some real exceptions. There are times when TV really comes into its own and tells a story better than any other medium can. But it should usually just be a supplement - not your main diet.

However, not watching TV news means I miss some occasional, truly wonderful moments. The latest thing I missed was the dismal, but very comical attempt to persuade us that Iran had threatened to blow up US warships in the Persian Gulf. Seen on the page, the words “I am coming to you. You will explode after a few minutes” seem rather ominous. Actually hearing the words spoken produces a very different effect.

“I am coming to yooooooooou…. you will explooooooode afer few minutes.”

Does that sound like a suicide bomber tearing around in a speedboat? Please, please say no. It was a prank call for God’s sake! One of those idiots who pester radio talk shows and occasionally manage to get on air. Only in this case it was an idiot with a CB radio who managed to get his voice on TV stations around the world. The Pentagon actually released this nonsense. What were they thinking? And what were the media thinking when they heard it and passed it off as serious?

Video of the same incident released by Iran gives a very different impression. English communication begins at 02:40.

“Request present course and speed” doesn’t sound very threatening, does it? Edited perhaps, but still more believable. Juan Cole has some comments. This absurd episode reminds me of the “kidnapped” British sailors and the dodgy maps.

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