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Is al-Jazeera 'Taking A Dive' In Egypt?

(AP)
I know what you're thinking: What's up with the press in Egypt? OK, maybe you weren't thinking that, but via Kevin Drum, I stumbled across an interesting report from Marc Lynch that's worth your attention.

As you may or may not know, Egypt is presently experiencing a rash of protests, with 200-300 protesters having been arrested by security forces in an atmosphere of "fierce" repression. What's the media coverage been like? Here's Lynch:

Huwayda Taha had an interesting piece in al-Quds al-Arabi yesterday (May 17), lamenting the absence of supportive satellite television coverage. While the local press had been courageous and unusually bold in covering the protests, satellite TV evidently went missing. Since Egyptian TV - whether state television or "private" stations like Dream - avoided any real coverage of the protests, only the regional satellites could have brought the confrontation to a mass public and pushed the demonstrations from hundreds of people to millions and ushered in the real revolution Taha believes is possible. If only a satellite TV station could be rented for the occasion to get the message out, the essay concludes!
But what about al-Jazeera? Egyptian activists, Lynch writes, believes the network has "sold them out, presumably in exchange for the release of their correspondent who had been arrested over his coverage of the Sinai bombings":
Having learned well the lessons of the potential power granted by Arab satellite TV, Egyptian security forces have been engaging in rather savage repression of television cameras attempting to cover the protests, attacks on journalists, and intimidation of others.

But that repression of journalists on the ground isn't enough to explain the relative silence of al-Jazeera. Not a single episode of al-Jazeera's key nightly prime time news/interview program Behind the News has been devoted to Egypt: issues deemed more important include the Kuwaiti parliamentary showdown, Somalia, the fourth European-Latin American summit, the war of words between America and Russia, and the Syrian opposition... only two of which (Kuwait and Somalia) are even arguably of more pressing concern to Arab viewers than the Egyptian protests.

Writes Drum: "I happen to agree with Marc that satellite TV stations like al-Jazeera are probably far more important drivers of democracy than anything the United States does in its official capacity. If they're taking a dive, that's bad news for the region."
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