by Brendan James
In the final years of the Hosni Mubarak era, private television networks and newspapers had opened the door to critical coverage of the regime; their encouragement and reporting helped pave the way for the revolution. There was hope that with a toppled regime might also come a truly independent press, one of the few institutions that could steer the country as it tumbled through a tumultuous post-revolutionary era.
But now, when the official state-run television channel puts a banner reading “Egypt Fighting Terrorism” in the corner of its screen (referring, of course, to the Brotherhood), the private networks do so as well. Over the weekend, the privately owned OnTV treated viewers to a highlight reel of the police clearing the Brotherhood sit-in, set gloriously to the soundtrack of “Rocky.”
This was the only coverage of the event many of those watching would have seen; local newspapers and television stations give no information about the number of Brotherhood dead, and have never shown images of them. And when reports broke on Wednesday that the former dictator Hosni Mubarak might be imminently released from prison, the local media took hours to mention the news. In the interim, they covered the traffic.