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Entries in Souad Mekhennet (2)


Bahrain Special: How Regime Supporters Used a New York Times Reporter (Again) To Denounce the Opposition

Almost three weeks ago, in a feature and a follow-up, we revealed how three supporters of the Bahraini regime, amidst tension and clashes around the Bahrain Grand Prix, introduced themselves as the "silent majority" to three Formula 1 journalists. The men, with a great deal of success, promoted the monarchy, especially Crown Prince Salman, as the symbol of moderation and reform while characterising protesters as a violent, misguided, Iran-led minority.

Two days before that, we considered how Souad Mekhennet of The New York Times --- allowed, unlike other journalists such as her colleague like Nicholas Kristof, into the country --- proclaimed, "Bahrain Holds Grand Prix, Keeping Protesters at Bay". Indeed, she went farther, portraying the opposition as fragmented, with one faction denouncing another for the use of violence.

But could this propaganda success be extended by merging the two strands? Could Mekhennet, representing America's best-known newspaper, be introduced to people who would reinforce her denunciation of the opposition?

From Tuesday's New York Times, "Losing Faith With Protesters in Bahrain", written by Souad Mekhennet....

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Bahrain Special: Regime PR Fails at Home But Succeeds in New York Times

The image accompanying today's New York Times' article on the situation in Bahrain: "A policeman tried to put out fires set by protesters in Budaiya, west of Manama, on Sunday" (Photo: Hamad Mohammed/Reuters)

We have often noted the Bahraini regime's efforts to put out the "right" story since mass protests began in February 2011, but this article from the Gulf Daily News --- posted after a Grand Prix when foreign reporters were turned away at the international airport, subjected to strict security checks, detained, and deported --- may take the prize for breath-taking audacity: "Taste of Bahrain's Hospitality for Foreign Journalists".

A piece which could well be satire --- but isn't --- proclaims: 

FOREIGN journalists who attacked Bahrain for hosting the Formula One race were spotted happily tucking into a free BBQ run by the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC).

Many of them called for the race to be scrapped but were seen enjoying Bahraini hospitality during the "Flavours of Sakhir Bahrain-style BBQ" at the Paddock area on Saturday, which was attended by teams, sponsors, media and other guests.

"There were many of them (foreign journalists) there, who had just weeks ago had been advocating the race should not be held in Bahrain and said they would not be happy at going there," said one journalist, who attended the event.

"They must have realised Bahrain is not the place to miss. Bahrain is certainly not Syria. It's a very hospitable country and life goes on as usual."

Perhaps not the best-measured "news" in the post-barbecue circumstances of Sunday's clashes and arrests. But if the Gulf Daily News has failed, Bahraini officials can celebrate success in a very different outlet --- The New York Times.

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