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Iranian Reporters Quit State TV After Government's Response to Plane Crash

AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

The accidental downing of a Ukrainian commercial airliner last week has sparked widespread backlash within the country after Iran lied about what really happened for days and appeared to be engaged in a cover-up.

Conservative Iranians who “ordinarily support the government” even showed up to protest in demonstrations over the weekend. Chants included, “Our enemy is right here…They lie to us that it’s America,” and at Beheshti University in Tehran, students refused to walk over American and Israeli flags. But the backlash against the state didn't end there.

According to The Guardian, the government’s response to the downing of the passenger jet prompted two reporters for Iranian state broadcaster IRIB to step down, with another one saying she resigned long ago after lying for the government for 13 years.

In a now-deleted Instagram post, Gelare Jabbari wrote this apology: “It was very hard for me to believe that our people have been killed. Forgive me that I got to know this late. And forgive me for the 13 years I told you lies.”

Zahra Khatami, who stepped down from her job at IRIB, said: “Thank you for accepting me as anchor until today. I will never get back to TV. Forgive me.”

Saba Rad, Khatami’s co-anchor, also quit.

“Thank you for your support in all years of my career. I announce that after 21 years working in radio and tv, I cannot continue my work in the media,” she said. “I cannot.”

Public trust in state-owned media outlets cratered after Iran’s insistence in the days after the crash that mechanical problems were to blame.

"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves; and Islamic Republic of Iran state television employees acknowledge that their credibility has been lost. Unaware that the credibility of this media and most of the domestic media had long since vanished," the Association of Iranian Journalists said in a statement, The Guardian reports.

“It should be noted, however, that other media outlets objected to the situation, but the Islamic Republic of Iran’s state television favored it," the statement continued. "This incident showed that people cannot trust official data and journalists should try to fill this gap as much as possible.”

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