To hear them tell it, Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak is nothing but a weakling easily pushed out by college-age students and a few days of demonstrations. I mean, surely, it should take more than that to topple the great Mubarak! Listening to conversations between Anderson Cooper and some random person whose name I didn’t catch, had I been Mubarak I would have made the decision to stay in power. Irresponsible journalism is what it is.
Mubarak’s decision to leave office early would have (and should have) been seen as a smart decision made for the benefit of his citizens and his country. He has been in power for 30 years after all and there isn’t much he can accomplish in the last few remaining months. It’s an embarrassment for him to continue to stay in power while the whole world watches his own citizens loudly and publicly reject him. However, news “reporting” like the one I listened to last night on CNN makes this final step very difficult. While governments, including the United States, are urging the elderly (and publicly humiliated) Mubarak to step down, these journalists are spending their time mocking the idea of his stepping down from power! Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to avoid that kind of mockery?
It’s unlikely that Mubarak made the decision to stay in power due to CNN’s poor coverage – they’re not that powerful. However, that’s beside the point: journalism is worthless if it isn’t impartial and done with integrity. There’s a reason CNN and other media are valued; because of the sometimes misguided notion that they are the truth tellers, the people we can always turn to for unbiased reporting of situations. It is not for CNN to mock Mubarak or anyone else for that matter. It’s their job to report on the crisis, it’s ours to develop opinions about the crisis. We don’t need CNN to tell us how they feel about it because we don’t care; if you want to share an opinion, get a talk show! We also don’t need CNN to tell us how to feel about any of this either. We’re very capable of developing our own opinions, thank you very much!
Finally, while for CNN this may be just another exciting journalistic experience, for the rest of the world it is the end of a dictatorship and the hope for a better future for Egyptians. In addition, it sets the tone for many countries especially in Africa and the Middle East. While to CNN this may be a movie to be watched and mocked, it has real life implications for majority of the rest of the world. It would be good for CNN to remember that and cover these events with the seriousness they deserve.
PS: A few hours after this post, President Mubarak stepped down and is no longer president of Egypt. I hope and pray that this is truly a new beginning for all citizens of Egypt. Congratulations to them (and to him for quitting before things got bloodier for the Egyptian people. He may have been unwilling but at least he didn’t drag it out, African-dictator style causing lots and lots of needless deaths) May God bless Egytians and their nation as they move forward to the next phase of their lives.