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IT’S NOT YOUR MOTHER’S MOTHER JONES: OLD “LEFTY” HAS GREAT 24/7 COVERAGE , ANALYSIS
It’s been five days of hard work for many of us searching for the inside, untold, and full story of the revolution in Egypt and its global implications. I certainly didn’t find what I needed on any of the broadcast networks or even cable news channels.
CNN did have great video on Thursday and even convinced Piers Morgan to dump his Colin Firth interview and roll live with it. CNN has great reporters there led by Ben Wedeman and Nic Robertson who live and breath the region and are the most nimble and knowledgeable.
But you can get their coverage and a whole lot more if you follow the Mother Jones updates 24/7 and link to YouTube.
You can also hear the silent screams of those frustrated by what they’re seeing day in and day out. Like those from the Abu Muqawama blog from the Center for a New American Security, an independent and non-partisan non-profit research group based in Washington, D.C.
Egypt: People Who Might Actually Know What The %$#@ They’re Talking About (Updated)
I was home in Tennessee for a brief 24 hours and woke up yesterday morning to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” which Mama Muqawama likes to watch before work. Nothing against the people on that particular show, because it’s probably just representative of U.S. cable news in general*, but I was absolutely stunned by the willingness of the show’s guests to opine about Egypt without having any actual experience in or expertise on Egypt or the broader Middle East. Is it really that tough to say, “Hey, that’s a great question, Joe, but I am not really the best guy to give the viewers at home a good answer?”
Instead, guest after guest — most of whom are specialists in or pundits on U.S. domestic politics — made these broad, ridiculously sweeping statements about the meaning and direction of the protests.
I traveled to Egypt twice in 2005 and lived there between January and August of 2006 while studying Arabic after having completed my master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies at the American University of Beirut. I am by no means an expert on Egypt. But I like to think I know the people who are, so as a service to the readers, I am providing you all a list of no-%$#@ experts on Egypt. This list is, happily, by no means exhaustive: unlike the lack of informed commentary on Afghanistan, the United States has thousands of people who have lived and studied in Egypt as civilian researchers and students and can thus provide some reasonably informed commentary on events there. The following list is filled with some people whose opinions matter and whose analysis might actually be informed by study and experience. This list is in no particular order except for the first two people on the list, who are both good friends as well as two of the world’s best experts on Egyptian politics.
Elijah Zarwan, Crisis Group
Michael Wahid Hanna, The Century Foundation, @mwhanna1
Samir Shehata, Georgetown University
Josh Stacher, Kent State University, @jstacher
Amil Khan, Abu Muqawama, @Londonstani
Max Rodenbeck, The Economist
If you can, follow the live feed on al-Jazeera Arabic, which has made for the most exciting television I have watched since the Red Sox came back from three games down in the 2004 ALCS. (These events are arguably more geostrategically significant.) If you can’t follow that feed, try al-Jazeera English or follow the updates on Robert Mackey’s most excellent New York Times blog The Lede.
*An exception to the rule: Ben Wedeman at CNN.
Update: Someone in the comments suggested Shadi Hamid (@shadihamid), and I second that. Again, my list was happily not exhaustive. There are a lot of very smart analysts out there who can thoughtfully opine on Egypt — in large part thanks to the legions of Arabic-language students who pass through Cairo at some point in their training.
Perhaps unsurprising for someone who grew up working in a newspaper, I spend a lot of time analyzing journalism and often criticize journalists. So I need to highlight when journalism is frankly awesome. Do yourself a favor and listen to this amazing audio recording of the Guardian‘s Jack Shenker reporting from inside an Egyptian paddywagonafter being beaten by plain-clothed state security thugs and imprisoned. Pretty freaking great.
On a related note, where the hell was al-Jazeera yesterday?
HERE’S MORE OF WHAT YOU MIGHT FIND ON MOTHER JONES
Here is a sample of 24/7 updates from Mother Jones:
UPDATE 26, Friday 12:20 p.m. EST: The White House has released a photo of President Obama receiving a briefing on the Egypt protests:
(What else have you missed?) Read the rest of this entry »
One Day Left to Bag the Canned Oprah Intv, Replace it With a Real Newsmaker
From the moment it was first announced that Oprah would be the first guest for the launch of Piers Morgan Tonight, I feared it would be a problem. What if a really big news story captured the imagination of the entire nation?
What if that news story sparked a unflinching dialog that crossed political parties, all generations, one story that involved the entire spectrum of modern debate: gun control, mental health resources, parental responsibility, anti-Semitism, marijuana, free speech, the presidency and more.
My “what if” happened on January 8th in Tuscon, Arizona and CNN’s coverage today, eight days later, remains riveting and relevant.
WILL ANYONE ELSE CHALLENGE ”OPRAH” ON THE FIRST SHOW?
This morning, Fareed Zakaria analyzed America’s gun culture and toxic political rhetoric, but first looked forward to next week’s White House guest, the president of China. (I will try to resist any references to “Hu’s on first.)
Up next, Howie Kurtz reviewed the role of mainstream media which, he noted for the second week, got in wrong from the beginning when NPR, ABC News and others reported that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been shot and killed. Kurtz went on to discuss the rhetoric and the media’s role and responsibility in covering the president, Sarah Palin and more.
The most riveting of all CNN’s coverage was Candy Crowley’s hour with a father of an adult schizophrenic and a truly amazing man named Fred Frese III, who is director of psychology at Western Reserve Psychiatric Hospital. To call Dr. Frese’s 30-year career distinguished is an understatement. Once an officer in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, Frese had numerous involuntary hospitalizations in state, private and military psych wards. Despite a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, he pursued a medical degree and earned a doctorate in psychology from Ohio University.
I had more of my questions about the Arizona shooting answered by this hour on CNN than any other. Dr. Frese, with all his twitchy charm, explained schizophrenia — its real threats, challenges and treatments — like no other. He began by invoking the pride his (schizophrenia) community had in Dr. John Nash, the nobel laureate portrayed by Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind.” The mental health community should have equal pride in Dr. Frese who, in the most disarming way, explains that as with alcoholics where there are happy drunks and mean ones, he’s a happy schizophrenic. Dr. Frese, for one, would make a great first guest for Piers Morgan. After that, someone should open up on-air phone lines for Dr. Frese, for about three hours.
In between all these better-than-usual CNN hours: Piers Morgan’s promo with Oprah who says, “Whew, that was the toughest interview I’ve had in 20 years.”
If that’s really true, then it will hold. Of all people, Oprah will understand. It’s more important for Morgan to show he’s more nimble than safe, more relevant than star struck. Read the rest of this entry »