But nobody really knew the details of the real story until last year, when the movie came out. Broadcast Journalist Ted Koppel was one of the people who helped keep the story as a secret. This delicate and dangerous mission carried out by CIA operator Tony Mendez was not put on the air when it happened just so the safety of the six diplomats who escaped from the attack to the embassy at Tehran wouldn’t be jeopardize. Koppel recalls in an interview what the secretary of state told him on 1979: “[…] it seems to us inevitable that if you put [the story] on the air, that the Canadian Embassy would probably be taken, and that the Americans that escaped from the U.S. Embassy would probably be killed”. So the story was kept a secret. The six diplomats were brought back to the U.S, and nobody really gave credit to the Canadians for helping them, but that’s another story.
So I couldn’t help but wonder, what if this story had happened nowadays? We live in the 21st century, we have all technological developments possible and the use of social media is available to almost anybody.
If this story had happened this year, would it be the same story? Would the journalist back off with a story like this?
Some people argue that it would be impossible to keep a story like this secret. Our media nowadays focuses on getting the story ASAP. Today we are so in a hurry. Everybody wants the led story. It is the race to being first with the story and be the one to have it first. And that’s why there have been more than a couple cases where some news network or newspaper gets the information wrong and has to retract from it. In other words, media nowadays bases more on the promptness rather than the accuracy. But even if the networks didn’t make the story public, somebody else would. We have Twitter and Facebook nowadays, blogs, Internet almost everywhere and cell phones. Social media is the most powerful tool people have nowadays. I am sure if somebody found out about the story today he would take no time to Tweet it or post it on Facebook. Back in 1979 the Internet didn’t exist yet, and it was much more complicated to share a story on the other side of the world. So personally, I don’t think it would be possible to keep a story like this from the public.
Now, the question that arise from this is: Is this a good or a bad thing? As Koppel said, he kept the story secret so that I wouldn’t jeopardize the diplomats safety. What if today somebody had found out about the story and had shared it with the world. These people probably wouldn’t have made it home. On the other hand, maybe they could have gotten some help from other people and the mission would have been a lot easier for Mendez.
But it would for sure have been an interesting event to happen nowadays, and it woud have been interesting to see how the media would have reacted and how it would have been handled.