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Did Jamil al Sayyed draw blood after hitting his head against the wall of his cell in anger? Did Raymond Azar commit suicide in the adjacent cell? What did Nasser Qandil say through his cell phone prior to the murder? Why did Assef Shawkat fly to Paris? Who are the female investigators accompanying UN commissioner Detlev Mehlis? Did they inquire about the sexual preferences of the four suspects? When? Where? These questions are part of a seemingly endless list published in print, on air, and online.

Political developments in Lebanon, especially the UN investigation into the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and the fate of those arrested, are no longer a governed by reality and facts; they have become entangled in a web of rumors and leaks whispered in private gatherings.

Events in the country are moving into the realm of the unknown. A politician was murdered. Syrian troops withdrew. Politicians now speak a different language. An international investigation is underway.

Those following the latest developments, unable to logically explain them are increasingly relying on their imagination. The crime and its seismic repercussions have become a puzzle everyone is trying to solve. Painstaking analysis has given way to detective stories

In the past few weeks, the media has entered the fray and joined the cycle of anecdotes. Newspapers and internet sites feature headlines and stories from classified sources yet no one is certain they ever existed. Televised news bulletins no longer broadcast images but merely repeat the latest rumors as viewers use their imagination to construct likely scenarios. Even politicians are no longer immune to this disease!

Everyone is Lebanon and elsewhere in the Arab world has busied themselves with stories yet no one without knowing if they contain any truth at all. Interestingly, the media has jumped on the bandwagon and joined the circus. A large portion of journalists and editors are no longer concerned with accuracy. Instead, they seek to spread hearsay and promote the version of events that serve their own supporters.

The future of Lebanon is yet to be clearly defined. The soon to be published findings of the investigation will cause major uproar in the country and beyond. Until the situation becomes clear, journalists and media professionals are likely to continue disregarding their role and busy themselves with rumors and gossip.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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