Advertisement

Talking heads: The emperor phenomenon

Talking heads: The emperor phenomenon
From Al Jazeera - January 14, 2018

Egyptians call them "emperors", and, every night, millions tune in to watch them lecture, entertain and rant their way through hours of television output. However, the very entertainers people love to watch are also widely recognised as by-products of a state of censorship that has become synonymous with Egyptian media - by-products and hosts on the front lines ofAbdel Fattah el-Sisi's government's propaganda efforts.

"One of the key aspects of these talk shows is the way they whip out a sense of national emergency," says Marwan Kraidy, director at the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication. "They react in a very emotional, sensationalistic way to very atrocious events. You not only support the government. You bend over backwards, so to speak. So, dissidents, political prisoners are typically vilified, they are portrayed as enemies of the nation.

"And if you portray anybody as an enemy of the nation in a time of emergency," continues Kraidy, "what you are saying is 'it's okay to jail them, it's okay to beat them up.' And, in some cases, 'it's okay to kill them.'"

Most hosts understand that toeing the line may be overlooked - although not recommended - but are very well aware of the consequences that await them should they cross the unspoken red line set out by the Sisi government. Criticism of the president, the military and/or intelligence services are all off limits.

One such journalist who did not heed the general warnings and guidelines was Ibrahim Eissa.

Advertisement

Continue reading at Al Jazeera »