Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Media of Abu Adas, the Helicopter and Manqash! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In Kuwait, the public has been occupied with the scandal of an elementary school teacher who allegedly showed her students a sexually explicit film. The journalist who broke the story and the newspaper that published it did not cease to mention the case. Discussions in newspapers and parliament further enflamed public opinion, until the general Kuwaiti public discovered there was no showing of a sexually explicit film and the controversy was a sham. In fact, the people of Kuwait were the victims of a settlement of scores with the Minister of Education.

After the recent collapse of the Lulua building in Mecca, a breaking news item on Al Jazeera claimed that a helicopter crashed into the building causing it to fall down. This was a media scandal: al Ghazal street is a small road and the building is only four stories high. Yet again, the viewer paid the price of retaliation. Al Jazeera has the right to love and hate as it pleases, but what about its credibility?

We all remember the Iraqi legend of Manqash. At the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, satellite television channels claimed that an Iraqi farmer, using an old rifle from World War II, successfully shot down a US Army Apache helicopter. Talk shows discussed the possibility of defeating the U.S. military. I remember a certain guest on such a show loudly proclaiming, “As long as Manqash was able to shoot down an Apache helicopter, it is unlikely the U.S. Army will ever reach Baghdad.”

When the U.S. Army entered the Iraqi capital and after the Information Minister Mohammed Al Sahaf’s lies were exposed, Manqash announced live on television that he had not fired a single shot at any American aircraft. He admitted lying after being ordered to do so by the authorities.

Let us move on to more recent times and examine the tale of Abu Adas. Picture a huge explosion requiring significant quantities of explosives, meticulous planning and international investigation to discover the perpetrators. Then, turn your attention to the taped confession of one Abu Adas broadcast on Al Jazeera. Once more, we find ourselves faced by media fabrications. Credibility, it seems, is the least important priority.

How is a nation to trust the media of Manqash and Abu Adas when settling scores is more important than the search for truth?