Public Comment

The Daily Show Misinformation on Egypt

By Haroon Abdelrahman
Friday April 05, 2013 - 11:14:00 AM

US wise, he is unmatchable. Too bad this statement about Jon Stuart cannot be extended to describe the Daily Show's grip on Egypt.

In his segment about Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi on 04/01 episode, Stuart made plausible arguments only if you don’t know enough, or deliberately choose to ignore the facts. As much as he is smart and encyclopedic talking about American issues, when it came to Egypt Jon showed typical western unawareness of the region and the culture, and yet insisted on sharing his wisdom and teach Morsi quite a few lessons. 


Jon is wrong. Morsi isn't busy with Bassem Youssef. In fact his first legislation ever saved journalists from a Mubarak era pre-trial detention law. But it is the legal system that entitles every Egyptian to take to court any other Egyptian, and as such some decided to act against the comedy show star. Like many I would have preferred they haven't, but you need to closely follow up on Egypt and know how the Mubarak businessmen funded media there, is fiercely anti Muslim Brotherhood. This makes some MB supporters angry and makes them resort to such measures (measures that are still lawful). 

Let's ignore Jon's note that Bassem didn't insult Islam because as far as I know Jon doesn’t speak Arabic and cannot be watching "Al-Bernameg" and comprehend each and every word and signal there. So I want to move to a debate worthy point. As much as Youssef mimics Stuart and believes he is his Egyptian embodiment (and Jon too seems to like that very much) Youssef isn't really so. He simply is not. He could have been the one if he stuck to his early principles when he started his show on YouTube, but he lost the opportunity. Here is one fictional roadmap though for Bassem to be a true Jon's equivalent: it starts by having Jon leave his network and move to Fox News. While there, Jon may continue with a comedy show that doesn’t necessarily praise everything Fox promotes. In fact he is allowed to ignore most of what fox do in their other shows and even mildly attack some of it. He doesn’t have to cheer lead for Fox stuff that is strongly against his belief system; he just have to turn a blind eye to it. And while on his own show in the new network, Jon just has to choose battles to fight that fit Fox agenda, and in the same time correlate with some of what he believes in. For example, he may choose to mock Mahmoud Ahmadi Nijad, or keep taking on Kim Jong On. Naturally that will suit both his mindset and his new employer’s manifest. Nightmare, isn’t it? But if Jon Stuart (god forbid) goes through this imaginary course Bassem Youssef will be his mirror image, because this is really where Bassem is right now. 

Bassem Youssef works for "Mohammad Al-Amin", owner of Egyptian TV network “CBC” and emperor of a huge national media group, and former best buddy for Mubarak's team or actually a key member in it. Jon may want to research about his friend’s boss, and the money he made during Mubarak's time and the spending he is doing now to negate the Arab Spring and invalidate it altogether. Youssef’s boss recruited an army of Mubarak’s media old guards. Youssef is the cherry on the top of a big pile of “Mubarakists”. Not a single time did he question the whereabouts of his current employer or his networks message; neither did he question the controversial business engagements of his ex-employer (when he worked for “On TV”) or his call for western forces to pressure and control his own country.  

As for Morsi, he has to keep sailing the Spring boat in spite all of Mubarak old guards, their money, their media, their allies in the judicial and executive branches of the government, and their regional and international Mubarak mourning supporters do to stop him. He has to do that not only because as Jon said the world is watching, but more importantly because Egyptians deserve it; again as Jon said. They deserve to build their successful state and get independent from all kinds of international interference (mostly negative). And one day they even might take away from Jon the grounds for his “we pay for your weapons” mockery, in which case I will be extremely happy about my tax money utilization.