Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chief Syrian Propagandist Welcomes anti-Bush Shoe-Thrower

I guess that it should have been expected, that Marc Santora would author a hagiography rather than a news story about Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the "shoe-throwing journalist," in the New York Times today. But I only wish that "journalists" of Santora's "caliber" and shoe-size, would better fact-check items like "There was even an offer from a wealthy Saudi to buy one of the shoes for $10 million." At the time, some Arabic-language journalists tracked down the Saudi offerer, and found that rather than being wealthy, the guy couldn't even make the rent on his home.

Here's another thing that Santora missed as he set about turning al-Zaidi into an icon: the Syrian Minister of Information welcomed al-Zaidi at Damascus Airport on Tuesday night (which means that Santora could have still gotten this tidbit into his story by deadline had he bothered to actually report it). Now why exactly is a Syrian minister, the one in charge of regime propaganda no less, waiting at the airport to receive al-Zaidi? Doesn't it seem like a protocol infraction?

Would al-Zaidi dare to throw a shoe at Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, whose regime enabled jihadists and Ba'athists to wage the bloody insurgency against the New Iraq?

The other guy in the pictures is 'Awn al-Khashloog, the Iraqi businessman who owns the Baghdadia TV station where al-Zaidi worked. Why haven't any of these western journalists, who are clearly enamored of al-Zaidi, ever taken the time to figure out how al-Khashloog made his money? Here a hint: he worked with the Saddam regime.

It seems that al-Khashloog has been generous with the Kitabat website on which the pictures of al-Zaidi in Damascus were posted; the proprietor of the site is openly groveling for the "businessman"'s attention. As we can see, this whole thing reeks of the high standards expected in today's journalism, both U.S. and Iraqi.

[Note: a reader pointed out that pictures seem to have been taken at two different locations. So maybe the Syrian minister received al-Zaidi someplace other than the airport. Gee, wish that some reporter would have clarified all this confusion for us.]

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