The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Arab Spring Overdose?

✚ Arab Spring Overdose?

Countering Sultan al-Qassemi's argument I posted this morning, the new blog Moniraism agrees about the bias of al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya but says it's nothing new, and the same bias was evident during the Egyptian uprisings — so why the fuss?

"Another interesting point was how Sultan claims that Al Jazeera was a more reliable source of news before it began reporting on Syria. Though I’d like to believe it, this idea itself is far removed from reality. Since its inception, one can safely say that Al Jazeera was the most controversial, provocative news channel on the Arabian satellite airwaves. In its regular broadcast it referred to Jerusalem as ‘occupied Jerusalem’, had analysts and politicians screaming at each other with occasional fist fights on its ‘opposite direction’ talk show, and it was the first station to exclusively air Osama Bin Laden’s videos post-911. In Kuwait in the late 90s, we also had a conspiracy theory circulating that it was being funded by Saddam Hussein, so many Kuwaitis boycotted the channel altogether.

During the Arab spring, Al Jazeera’s popularity exploded because it was the only channel that continuously broadcast the entirety of the revolution from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen to Libya. Its dramatically edited inserts between news segments about events that were taking place was something new to see in a news channel broadcast. It was sensational, moving, and shaped the imagination of its viewers about current events (Al Arabiya was also quick to copy these inserts to catch up on the ‘drama’ that it was missing out on).

In other words, the agenda was already there for everyone to see."