Today, it is a given among the majority of Egyptians that the Western media is against them. As Egyptians try to present themselves as being on the right track, someone out there continues to slander their every move and flagrantly ignore their accomplishments.
Is this attitude towards Egypt deliberate and premeditated? If so, why? More importantly, is this only the attitude of the Western media or is that media a mere marionette in the hands of larger powers?
The Western world was sceptical if not critical of the 30 June Revolution. Though many countries have turned around since, Britain remains on the fence, and the US continues to give Egypt the cold shoulder despite official visits and a continued flow of foreign aid. Even if official views are superficially courteous, the Western media is dead set on presenting a tarnished picture of Egypt today.
Egyptians are bewildered. They cannot fathom how the West does not see eye to eye with them on what they consider to be the best thing that could have happened in over five years.
Egyptians went out in droves on 30 June 2013 to call for change. Doesn’t this make the revolution a legitimate one, launched by Egyptians and not enforced upon them?
Egyptians may never get to the real reason behind the hostility, but it will continue for as long as the powers in the West deem it to be necessary.
But while the Western media continues to criticise Egypt, many documentaries are exposing its true colours. The documentary Top 10 Staged Media Events is a case in point. It exemplifies not only the bias, but also the fabrications, of the Western media. Though produced in 2013, it is going viral on social media again today.
The Top 10 Staged Media Events is a 26-minute collage of footage that zooms in on the Western media’s staged coverage. To show that all the networks are reading from the same script and that the media outlets all get their orders from the same external source, the documentary begins with footage of the same repeated message running across many US networks.
One story thread truly hits home: the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the events that occurred thereafter. There is footage of Charles Jaco, a CNN reporter, standing somewhere in Saudi Arabia as he anticipates the falling of an Iraqi Scud missile on Saudi soil. As sirens screech in the background and disaster looms, Jaco looks up to the sky apprehensively. Swiftly he puts his gas mask on and his colleague his helmet as the camera abruptly cuts off.
The drama was found to be faked. The footage was shot in a CNN studio in the US. The rest of the footage has Jaco exclaiming, “I love this country”, as he shows off a fake Scud missile before heading out for a burger and coffee.
In 2001, only 16 per cent of Americans believed that Iraq had had anything to do with the events of 9/11. But after a two-year propaganda war, 60 per cent believed that Iraq had had something to do with them, justifying the 2003 US-led invasion. The propaganda war had succeeded.
The US politician Robert F Kennedy Jr in the same documentary says there are five giant multinational corporations that together control all 14,000 radio stations in the United States, all 5,000 television stations, 80 per cent of newspapers, all billboards, and most large Internet providers. So five American companies govern the media landscape and control what is seen, heard and read across the world.
We can go further. According to award-winning ex-CNN investigative journalist Amber Lyon, CNN is routinely paid by the US government to have it selectively report on certain events while censoring others. And while Western newspapers criticise China, Russia and other countries regarding censorship and limitations on freedom of speech, they await content and quotation approval from the gatekeepers in the White House before printing their stories.
At face value, Google is a conglomerate that provides Internet-related services, but it seems to have been bitten by the same bug. One prominent commentator on this is activist Julian Assange of Wikileaks. In his book When Google Met Wikileaks, Assange goes in depth into how Google profits from its association with the US State Department and vice versa.
This tells us that the Western media can and does play a fundamental role in manipulating world views, regardless of what the truth might be. Be it the Ukraine-Russia War, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, or Egypt’s 30 June Revolution, the bias is clear as day. And yet the world digests such information unabashed, only for it to be regurgitated on social media soon afterwards.
Objectivity, integrity and altruism go by the wayside in the face of money, power and dominance — from a seemingly squeaky-clean journalistic facade that delivers the news to media outlets bought by wealthy decision-makers to worthwhile stories that remain locked in drawers and insignificant ones that are highlighted and brought into the limelight.
While the Western media continues to wage a war against some countries and to hold others unaccountable, Western newspapers, TV networks and Internet providers fabricate facts and stage stories to defame and discredit, make omissions to suit their liking, and are bought and censored by governments.
All this is taking place while President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, whom the Western media has shunned, has allowed journalist Ossama Kamal to ask whatever Egyptians would like to know during his two-year presidency in an interview with no censorship, no prohibitions and no omissions, but gaining very little coverage from the Western media.
It is high time that we took the Western media with a grain of salt, doubting everything and believing nothing.
The writer is author of Cairo Rewind: The First Two Years of Egypt's Revolution. That article was published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 16 June.