Sunday, May 18, 2008

The US Presidential Elections - An Arab View

CNN just aired an interesting piece where they held a forum for Arab News Networks about their coverage of the US Presidential Elections. Networks represented include Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, Abu Dhabi TV, and LBCSat. Somewhat obviously, the US election is considered extremely important for the Middle East and is seen as affecting the personal day to day life of Middle Easterners. There were some interesting perspectives, and here are some of the statements that struck me:

According to Al Arabiya, their network is viewing the US elections as a product to be packaged in a dramatic way to increase viewership. For example, they latch onto "Hilary Clinton when she is crying" to stretch out the drama and increase viewership. They mentioned "we have the the opportunity to deal with the US elections like we deal with the world cup" and "people are interested in how Hilary Clinton dresses up, and also about the foreign policy."

However, the rest of the networks had more of a sense of resignation about the race. "People don't believe that any of the 3 candidates candidate will make a big difference in foreign policy. The USA will not dramatically change the foreign policy towards the middle east." LBCSat's view based on the comments from their viewers is that "nobody believes either of the democratic candidates will win - it's the Arab mentality. An African American cannot win the presidency and neither can a woman. So all eyes are on John McCain."

Some highlights from the comments offered by the audience supposedly made up by viewers include:

"Not a single question about the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been raised in any of the debates and there have been dozens of them. So no one knows how Barak Obama or Hilary Clinton feels about the conflict." (From a Rep from the Arab-American League)

"I'd like to believe that someone like Barak Obama could be elected as President, but your country has let me down so many times before that I don't want to hope anymore."

"People see themselves in Barak Obama - they think that if it is possible for an African American, it could be possible for an Arab American."

All in all CNN pitched the show as this great debate, and it most definitely was not (of course the US news networks are guilty of dramatization too, although they would never admit it as frankly and proudly as Al Arabiya did), but I wonder if this piece was aired in the US or only in the international broadcasts? Anyone know?

And to end this post on a completely inappropriate note, watch this video. Akhmed the Dead Terrorist. Friggin hilarious. I'm totally going to hell, but at least I'll be going there laughing :)


No comments: