Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1159, (1 - 7 August 2013)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1159, (1 - 7 August 2013)

Ahram Weekly

When the earth moved

It is the task of history to observe and marvel at another glorious feat of its oldest friend! More than amazing, more than astounding, more than electrifying was the scene in Egypt on 26 July 2013. Observe history, as you have for thousands of years, and record the finest display of civilisation and progress that mankind has ever witnessed.

Over 40 million people marched together, shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, their hearts beating as one, chanting  joyfully their national songs, crying peacefully: “NO to terrorism; NO to Morsi; NO to Islamic rule!” This euphoric state so eloquently expressed by the multitudes, resounded in the high heavens, and the angels heard them, and the Earth moved.

Is it therefore not more than bewildering that the world’s media refuses to see or hear the indisputable facts? Is it deaf, dumb, cross-eyed or one-eyed?

We deplore, no, we bewail a corrupt and mendacious media with its trumped up reports, its artful trickery, its fallacious accounts and its tainted bulletins.

Yet are we surprised? Are we shocked? Are we scandalised?

We are only too familiar with the adulterated bias and arbitrary process with which news is selected, diluted and distorted. We are regularly and repeatedly brain-washed, and on that clear mass of grey-matter, the elite media dribbles and drizzles only the news they wish to present. They are in command. We question little; we doubt even less.

A picture is worth a thousand words they say, but in the drama of conflicts, television is the hero. Its camera is the eyewitness to the events. But when the camera pictures an anti-Morsi riot and describes it as a pro-Morsi demonstration, it becomes a travesty. Words become mightier than a thousand pictures, and TV becomes a deceptive, dangerous tool.

Television became a popular means of entertainment in the 1950s, and news occupied less than half an hour of its daily programming. Thirty years later, Ted Turner, a young millionaire took a gamble by launching a 24-hour news channel, the Cable News Network, (CNN). The gamble worked and the idea spawned a flood of television news channels reaching billions of viewers on a daily basis. Almost every existing network established a news service in the US, the UK, Europe, the Far East and the Middle East. Mostly privately owned, they tend to slant the news to the proprietor’s liking. No matter how “fair and balanced” they claim to be, they are neither.

Because it is the grandfather of network news, viewers across the world turn to CNN, but it has grown to be the craftiest and has developed a firm reputation of one-sided reporting. It was the wonder child of the media, now the wonder is gone and all that remains is the child who is unable to differentiate between truth and fiction. The erroneous reporting of the Palestinian plight is being repeated today towards the crisis in Egypt. Because of their systemic selection of certain coverage, the truth about the Brotherhood remains hidden from the eyes of the world.

Most disillusioning of all was to see the mighty BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) succumb to the same regrettable trend...the bias of a single reporter or a point of view. What happened to its long tradition of impartiality and good taste?

In the present media, mistiness at best is all you get. Power is all the networks seek forgetting that power carries responsibility. This dilution of truisms is distasteful and detrimental.

During wars networks send their reporters to be embedded on the battlefield, why not do the same in Egypt, which is nothing less than a war? Why not have reporters embedded in the MB fortress of Rabaa Al Adaweya so they can witness first-hand the horrific crimes of torture of men who are stripped naked, seared and electrocuted and eventually many die and are buried without the necessary sanitation or medical supervision. They would witness the terror in the hearts of Egyptians caused by such savagery and brutality, the like of which humanity has never seen. How much support would they get if these atrocities occurred in London or New York?

Why have media reporters not relayed the spirit of peace, love and friendship that pervaded the air of the Egyptian sky, like sweet perfume, on 26 July? In the holy month of Ramadan, Christians and Muslims broke the fast together at sunset. They offered each other dates and figs, bottled water and cool drinks, delectable morsels and sugary desserts. Christians and Muslims feasted together. No one knew who was who. No one cared. But all present knew that at that moment the Earth moved. Had the honest media been there, which they were not, they would have felt it too.

Is this the concept of freedom of the press? To suppress, distort, warp and deceive? Is it the freedom to broadcast or print whatever your advertisers wish? Comments are free, but facts are sacred.

To the inveterate truth-hunter, there is little hope the international, respectable media will provide it. The search for the truth should be the noblest and purest of vocations, but sadly the present coverage of news from Egypt today should make every honest newsman blush with shame.

The nobility of the pursuit of truth has long been abandoned. Unless the media reports the atrocities of the MB, the unity of Egyptians against terrorism, what they serve the world is lawlessness.

 

“The power of the press is very great, but not so great as the power of suppress.”

Lord Hamsworth Northcliffe (1865-1922)

 

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