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Live Egypt channel broadcast images of sparsely attended opposition
protests during late June and early July. In reality, the areas were
almost always full of protesters opposing then-President Mohammed Morsi —
the network chose times of day when those areas were empty.
The past two weeks in Egypt have been a real test for the TV
network Al-Jazeera. Accusations that the network is biased toward the
Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have
resulted in arrests, threats and resignations.
On the last day
of June and the first days of July, as millions of Egyptians took to the
streets to call for Morsi's downfall, Al-Jazeera was there.
The network's . The pro-Morsi areas of Cairo were almost always shown as full. The anti-Morsi areas were shown as empty.
Posters in Cairo show Al-Jazeera's logo in
red with a bloody hand scratching at it. A bullet can kill a man, the
poster says, but a lying camera can kill a nation.
It was later revealed that the anti-Morsi areas were usually
packed — Al-Jazeera just showed them at the times of day that they were
Then came the killing of more than 50 pro-Morsi
demonstrators by Egyptian security forces. Some Al-Jazeera reports
initially said the number was in the hundreds.
later held a press conference on the killings. An Al-Jazeera
correspondent was booed out of the room by other reporters.
Haggag Salama, who had freelanced for Al-Jazeera for 10 years, the
misreporting of the number of slain protesters was the last straw. He
called another local TV station and announced his resignation on air.
Salama says Al-Jazeera had no sources and exaggerated the numbers to favor the Muslim Brotherhood.
the days that followed, reports surfaced that some 20 more Al-Jazeera
employees had quit — although at least one might have been a fake and
others now say they will probably go back.
Media watchers say it's important to stress the difference between , and .
The latter is the channel most well-known in the U.S., and Al-Jazeera
English correspondents maintain their coverage is unbiased.
also say part of what's happening in Egypt is a witch hunt by some
Egyptians who are now rabidly anti-Morsi and anti-Muslim Brotherhood.
Other Islamist channels have been closed down since Morsi's ouster.
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Posters around Cairo show Al-Jazeera's logo in red with a bloody
hand scratching at it. A bullet can kill a man, the poster says, but a
lying camera can kill a nation.
Either way, the Al-Jazeera name
has taken a hit, says Marwan Kraidy, who studies Arab media at the
University of Pennsylvania. And it's time for the network to do some
"There might be some room for changing," Kraidy
says. "And I do hope that that does happen. Because otherwise ...
you're running what's truly an internationally unique institution that
had its moment of brilliance into the ground."
Al-Jazeera's loss of credibility also reflects a loss of credibility for its main backer, Qatar.
Talk-show host Bassem Yousef, who is often described as the Jon Stewart of Egypt, recently , with songs and flags and costumes.
Kraidy says now that Morsi has been deposed, Qatar lost more than face.
addition to several billion dollars that they had invested in Mr. Morsi
and his government in aid, they really lost a lot of influence in what
remains a very, very major country," Kraidy says.
The new emir of Qatar,
who took power just last month, will now have to decide whether he
wants to reshape Al-Jazeera, his country's best-known brand name, Kraidy