Sunday, December 14, 2008

Time for US Public Diplomacy Heads to Roll...

Can't afford to wait for the Obama inaguration. Whoever set this up, made up the guest list, and allowed the reporter to throw shoes at President Bush needs to be publicly humiliated him-and/or herself--everyone involved from top to bottom, and that includes JAMES GLASSMAN, author of Dow 36,000 and America's Top Propagandist.

Yes, the Fox anchor is right--Bush did a good duck, impressive even. But this never should have happened in the first place... (plus why didn't a Secret Service agent throw him/herself in front of the President?). Bush comes out OK in the reflexes department, not so OK in the intelligence, planning and information department. He's lost some face...and unfortunately, so has the USA. Bloomberg reported:
“This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq,” shouted the man, later identified by the Associated Press as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi- owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.
...And according to TBS Journal:"Baghdadia TV is considered a moderate Sunni channel..."

More on the station from Eye Raki :

Today, there are over a dozen Iraqi sattelite channels that are broadcasting from inside and outside Iraq. We have all sorts of channels, some that broadcast only a few hours a day, others 24/7. Some that are funded by the US, others that condemn American presence and even show footage of attacks on American soldiers. Some that represent ethnic groups in Iraq, others sects. Some broadcast from Iraq, others from outside.

I dont generally spend much time watching most of these channels, but i do flick through them every now and then. The other day I was watching the "news" on Al-Baghdadiya, a channel that broadcasts from Egypt. It was showing Iraqi's in Ramadi complaining about the American seige on the city (that started about 3 weeks ago). It was the funniest thing i have ever seen on an Iraqi channel, of course the conditions that the people in that city are living in are nothing to laugh about, but what was comic was the fact that the people being interviewed were being coached to say what the reporter wanted them to say. You can even hear the reporter saying "say there is no government" and an old women then says "There is no government here, they dont care about us", then the reporter says "petrol"...and the women says "we dont have petrol here in the city, its hard to get around'. The reporter then says "American occupation" and the women than rants about the Americans who are besieging the city.
The official mission statement I found via LinkTV's website makes Al-Baghdadiya sound like something that a US government agency or supported NGO might be funding:
In addition the channel aims at: Educating tolerance, helping to re-establish a healthy Iraqi society and environment, emphasizing the Iraqi identity through the cultural and social heritage, helping to improve and modernize Iraqi society besides respecting spiritual and social values, staying up to date with scientific developments worldwide, and improving the aesthetical values of broadcasting.
Inquiring media studies scholars want to know: How does throwing shoes at President Bush "improve the aesthetical values of broadcasting?"

More on the shoe-throing reporter's possibe motivations from MEB Journal :
Kidnapped. Muntadhar Al Zaidi, correspondent for the independent Al Baghdadiya television station, said he spent more than two days blindfolded, barely eating and drinking, after armed men forced him into a car as he walked to work in an area of central Baghdad. He never learned the identity of the kidnappers, who beat him until he lost consciousness – and then questioned him closely about his work, but did not demand a ransom. Al Baghdadiya broadcasts from Cairo and is often critical of the government and U.S. military presence in the country.