TW: 2013 Egyptian Coup
There’s a lot happening in Egypt at the moment, and I don’t think I have the wherewithal to untangle the whole mess in just one post, especially at the moment. That said, there’s one particular part of it that seems particularly interesting: the role of Al-Jazeera in covering the current coup.
(A threatening message dropped at an Al Jazeera studio in Cairo which reads, “A lying camera kills a nation reads a flyer thrown outside Al Jazeera office in Cairo.” From here.)
To provide some background, while it seems absolutely necessary to discuss the recent ousting of the Morsi government as a coup, many Egyptians have articulated why they viewed the consequential harm to the democratic norms in the post-Mubarak era as worth it. This has frequently focused on how Morsi government was influencing the on-going drafting of a new Egyptian constitution, which would have had long term ramifications for their country. That calculation should be for Egyptians to make, not for US media commentators who take a dim view on Egyptians as a whole.
That concept of these events needing to be evaluated and judged by Egyptians unfortunately doesn’t seem lacking among those that view the coup as the correct course. The Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera news channel has come under allegations of attempting to coerce Egyptian journalists into painting a rosier picture of the Morsi government and a more negative depiction of the coup than they perceived to be truthful. One critic even complained-
Al Jazeera Cable has recently become to Islamists in Egypt what Fox News has been to fundamentalist Republicans in the US for many years.
— Nezar AlSayyad (@nezar) July 8, 2013
Sadly, this seems to somewhat track previous questionable behavior by Al-Jazeera. In both coverage of the Malian and recent Egyptian government, Al Jazeera has appeared unwilling to challenge the government’s legitimacy because of some appearance of democratic support. In contradiction with David Brooks’ screed, they seem invested in the success of those somewhat democratic governments that they will avoid embodying one of the greatest democratic forces: a critical media. I hope there are better ways of reminding them of that, however, than with threats.