Voices from the Arab Press: THE US MEDIA AND ITS WAR WITH TRUMP

Islamic State has been one of the most active terror groups in Egypt in recent years... also spreading into Libya.

By MEDIA LINE
July 24, 2019 16:28
Voices from the Arab Press: THE US MEDIA AND ITS WAR WITH TRUMP

A YOUNG relative sits underneath pictures depicting Egyptian Christians beheaded in Libya by Islamic State in 2015, during their funeral ceremony at a church in al-Our village south of Cairo, Egypt, on May 15, 2018.. (photo credit: AMR ABDALLAH DALSH / REUTERS)

THE US MEDIA AND ITS WAR WITH TRUMP
Al-Ittihad, UAE, July 17
The US media, which waged an aggressive campaign against President Donald Trump, are finally coming to terms with their loss almost three years after the battle with the American president began.
Trump first caught the American media off guard in July 2016, when he won the Republican nomination for the presidency. The second surprise took place on the eve of the election itself, when Trump defeated his rival, Hillary Clinton, despite the strong support she received from the media. However, it took almost three years – until now – for these very same outlets to acknowledge Trump’s victory over them.
In his recent book, The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America, CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta describes his challenges as a reporter covering the Trump administration. In many parts of the book, Acosta describes a genuine fear for his personal and physical safety.
However, Acosta’s book neglects to consider the extent to which this portrayal matches reality and the kind of influence it has on public opinion. Acosta, like other journalists who share his position, does not answer the single most important question that quite a few Americans are asking: How is it that journalists claim to be personally threatened while negative reporting about Trump seems to continue unabated? In fact, Acosta’s reporting grew more prolific after Trump banned him from entering the White House. In all of his examples and narratives, Acosta fails to provide one convincing instance where he was actually subjected to danger.
This question brings us back to where we started and raises a fundamental question. How did the US media lose their fight against Trump, even though they reach most Americans?
The short answer is that they could not rid themselves of the anti-Trump stance they began adopting three years ago. They are viewed as inherently biased.
This does not mean that Trump’s policy is correct or that his performance is devoid of errors. But looking at the media, rather than at Trump, might be more helpful in explaining their lack of popularity.
The US media have weakened their role and undermined their credibility by abandoning their professionalism and becoming a full-fledged political player. In doing so, they have lost their ability to persuade anyone with their messages other than those who were already convinced of them. The US media lost their battle with Trump because they turned from a neutral player to one deeply immersed in a political conflict.
The biggest benefactor from this situation is Trump himself, who has gotten away with what would otherwise be biting coverage of his poor performance by rightfully claiming that the media are out to get him. – Waheed Abd al-Majid

‘RETURNEES’ FROM ISIS

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, July 17
In the 1990s, after the conclusion of the war between the Afghans and the Soviet Union, the term “returnees from Afghanistan” was coined in reference to Arab fighters who traveled to Afghanistan to help fight the Soviet occupation troops and then returned, radicalized, to their home countries.
At the time, there was a clear concern in Egyptian political circles about these men and women, especially given the growing spread of terrorism. Consequently, many of them were prosecuted, and some of them were imprisoned for a period of time.
Now the concern may be renewed with the phenomenon of “returnees from ISIS.” A recent study by Mohammed Gomaa, an expert on extremist groups from the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, titled “The Return of Foreign Fighters from Syria and Iraq: The Size of the Phenomenon and the Security Implications,” highlights the danger that this phenomenon could pose to the security level of countries with large groups of foreign fighters.
The study was based on the most recent and most accurate estimates of foreign fighters who joined the ranks of Islamic State. It indicates that the number of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq alone is about 20,000, from at least 90 countries. Egypt is at the top of that list.
Indeed, Islamic State, through its offshoot and franchise organizations, has been one of the most active terrorist groups in Egypt in recent years. It also spread into Libya, where it has successfully established hidden cells throughout the country.
Dealing with this particular issue is a difficult feat. It requires identifying and tracking the potential destinations to which these fighters travel once they return to their home countries. It also necessitates close surveillance of these cells’ sources of funding in order to limit their ability to operate.
As far as I know, the Egyptian government has so far done neither. We must therefore be aware of this danger and act accordingly to protect our country. We cannot afford to return to the 1990s, when returnees could freely operate in our country unhindered and unobstructed. – Abdel Latif el-Menawy

THE SAUDI FILM INDUSTRY
Al-Anba, Kuwait, July 18
Last week, the Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh devoted its main editorial to a somewhat unusual topic: the importance of the film industry. Cinema, according to the editorial, is not just meant to present events – fictional or nonfictional – on the screen, but has also become an important tool for the projection of soft power and for economic development. That is, more and more countries today invest in projecting their cultures and unique identities through the establishment of a local film industry or by partnering with film production companies around the world.
The deep and accelerating transformations unfolding in Saudi Arabia, which have been set forth in the kingdom’s unique Vision 2030 [plan], are finally beginning to manifest themselves in other realms of Saudi society, including cinema arts. It is expected that the kingdom will open its doors to the film industry, which has attracted the attention of many countries, including superpowers such as China. Beijing has already reached out to government officials in Riyadh with the hope of partnering with Saudi Arabia on joint film ventures that would be filmed in the country.
This certainly not a novel idea, but most states have neglected to invest in their film industries. There are a few notable exceptions. Indian cinema, known as Bollywood, brings in over 14 million viewers a day, and its revenues continue to rise dramatically each year. Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, serves as the country’s second-largest economic sector, helping the Sub-Saharan state diversify its national income sources through an innovative avenue.
Therefore, film should not be thought of only within the purview of the arts. An investment in cinema is an investment in a country’s economic stability and ability to send a message to viewers around the world.
Saudi Arabia is beginning to catch up on this trend, and I have no doubt that other Gulf states will soon follow suit. – Salah al-Sayer

THE 2020 CLASSROOM IS NOT THE 1980 CLASSROOM
Al-Ittihad, UAE, July 19
What those who were educated during the 1970s and the 1980s learned at school was relevant for their day and age, but it does not suffice in meeting the challenges of our time. Changes in school curricula, activities, tests, codes of conduct and teaching methods are a normal, and expected, process.
I often hear complaints from members of older generations who lament how the educational environment of our time has been “degraded.” They believe that today’s classroom must look like the classroom that they remember from their time in school. So many of our nation’s great leaders, they claim, were educated using old methods. They have managed to lead successful lives and push our country forward without the innovations being introduced into classrooms today.
But herein lies the problem: How can we compare the student of the past with today’s student? The student of the past finished classes and ran to work, where he would earn a modest stipend, while today’s student carries a credit card in his pocket. The student of the past could only dream of one day leaving his country, while today’s student aspires to visit space. The student of the past practiced calligraphy, while today’s student practices graphic design. The student of the past searched for information in piles of books, while today’s student retrieves data with a single click.
What a student is taught at school today might not suffice to meet the needs of a student attending school just a few years from now. The world around us is rapidly changing – politically, economically and culturally. These changes lead to tremendous growth in human knowledge, unprecedented technological developments and a change of social and political norms.
Without preparing our younger generations for the future, we will remain unable to compete in the world arena. We must be innovative and nimble, and accept the fact that our children’s educational experience will inherently differ from our own. This is not something to fear; if anything, we should welcome this change with open arms. – Ahmed Amiri

The media line


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