Among the least analyzed aspects of the Egyptian revolution has been the significance of the widespread violence against the foreign media covering the demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
The Western media have been unanimous in their sympathetic coverage of the demonstrators in Egypt. Why would the demonstrators want to brutalize them? And why have Western media outlets been so reticent in discussing the significance of their own reporters’ brutalization at the hands of the Egyptian demonstrators?
To date the most egregious attack on a foreign journalist in Cairo’s Tahrir Square took place last Friday, when CBS’s senior foreign correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted and brutally beaten by a mob of Egyptian men. Her own network, CBS, took several days to even report the story, and when it did, it left out important information. The fact that Logan was brutalized for 20 to 30 minutes and that her attackers screamed out “Jew, Jew, Jew” as they ravaged her was absent from the CBS report and from most other follow-on reports in the US media.
The media’s treatment of Logan’s victimization specifically and its treatment of the widescale mob violence against foreign reporters in Cairo generally tells us a great deal about the nature of today’s media discourse.
But before we consider the significance of the coverage, a word must be said about Logan and her colleagues in Tahrir Square. For some time, the common wisdom about journalists has been that they are cowards. Multiple instances of journalistic malpractice led many to conclude that reporters are prisoners of their fears.
For instance, recall the story of the Palestinian lynching of IDF reservists Vadim Nozhitz and Yosef Avrahami at the Palestinian Authority police station in Ramallah on October 1, 2000.
There were dozens of reporters on the scene that day as the Palestinian police-led mob murdered and dismembered Nozhitz and Avrahami.
But only one camera crew – from Italy’s privately owned Mediaset television network – risked life and limb to film the event.
After Mediaset’s footage was published, Ricardo Cristiani, a reporter for RAI television, Mediaset’s state-owned competitor, published an apology in the PA’s official trumpet Al-Hayat al-Jadida.
Among other things, Cristiani wrote, “We [RAI] emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way, because we always respect... the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for work in Palestine and we are credible in our precise work.”
Cristiani’s behavior, like that of his colleagues who failed to film the lynching, led many to believe that the international media are nothing but a bunch of cowards.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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