Pressing a wrong button in the remote control led me to the Yemeni News broadcast, in a day full of news about today's bombing of the US consulate in Jeddah, confrontations and killings in Iraq, and other events in Europe, Palestine and Syria .. Guess what the first 2 stories in that program were about?
- President Ali Abdullah Saleh meeting God knows who & handing him a letter to George W Bush!, accompanied with a silent video showing the 2 men just sitting there looking at each others probably exchanging telepathic messages of boredom..
- The second story was really funny, it's about President Ali receiving a letter from G.W.Bush in reply to Ali's letter of congratulations for George's winning the second term elections !!
Now this is hilarious on many levels:
1- The reply actually was George lecturing Ali about "working together" better this time around! They aired this not because Yemen is a true open democracy disclosing its president's daily activities, but because it is related to Ali's being "in touch" with the big Chief, which gives him a sort of importance I guess..
2 - Assuming Ali Saleh sent the letter of congratulations on November 4th, he is getting a reply on December 5th. ONE month later, this is not only an insult, but a disgrace - Talk about snail mail !
3- No on in the Yemeni government or media is even aware of points one and two above and that is even more pathetic.
4- Some brown-nosing genius minister or TV channel manager obviously has decreed that no matter what stories there are, the first one or two news bits have to be
about the Yemeni President! No matter how trivial the presidential bit or how urgent the news is !
5- This is aired in a satellite broadcasted channel, not local TV.
It's not about the Yemeni TV alone, its about the whole "Government owned" media all over the Arab world. The Egyptian, Saudi, Libyan, Syrian, Sudani .... TVs are no better, they not only produce dog food and sell it to their viewers, they even eat their own dog food live and broadcast it free for the whole world to watch.
The local channels are so out of it, they broadcast the hypocrisy, ass-kissing and direct "be good" messages without any make up or pretenses, they think of it as a
national public service and duty, tying up the relation between the Government and the people, and in the process failing to entertain, educate, inform, raise awareness .. failing to provide any kind of service and succeeding in wasting millions of dollars in useless nonsense that no believes even if they are saying the truth.
They are installing corrupt values and spreading them like germs on air waves.
When did they lose touch with reality? How are they getting away with it? Do they really think they are offering any kind of service? Are they not aware ? Are the ministers of the media and the presidents so out of it they don't even see it as such? Do they care in the first place ?
I know someone reading this is already answering the above questions with: This is only one symptom of a more dangerous disease spreading into most Arab Governments and accordingly their media.
What they think of themselves, what infects them, and even what cures them is not much of an issue, most probably this disease will be cured by amputation, it's the poor people who are fed this crap that I feel bad for, the kind simple ones that do not have a remote control or a satellite dish, and have to suffer this miss-information and un-profassionalism, and pay for it dearly when their children look with disgust and suspicion at the news and products "fabricated locally". They become radicals in their rejection of their society and its hypocrisy, fall victim to brain washing by others who have an agenda and use the media professionally.
The current local Arab media is creating a vacuum, one that will someday implode, if you work for one of those channels or know someone who does, please pass this message to them, tell them have mercy on us and minimize the damage, watch what your people are watching, offer them what they really need, the truth, you are wasting your public's money and hurting them, dead air is much much better.