Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pressures on the Daily Star: How the US government is Pressuring the Lebanese press to refrain from criticizing Sanyurah or even Solidaire. Many of you were surprised to see a fine investigative article about Solidaire by Lysandra Ohrstrom in the Daily Star, of all places. You were correct to be surprised. My highly reliable (and well-placed) sources in Beirut are telling me that there were very strong reactions against the article by the Sanyurah government and its allies in the US embassy. The strongest reaction came from the USAID which funds the investigative page through an "accountability and transparency" grant. Don't you like how the US defines "accountability and transparency"? The person who secured the USAID grant wrote that "the political agenda of the donors is not to undermine the fuoad Siniora government". Long live transparency, accountability, and democracy. The person* complained for the second time that the examiner has become a "hizbollah rag"-the first was after Jim Quilty wrote a story on the reconstruction of bint jbeil, the person said donors were "bored" with the reconstruction topic. Long live the donors. Apparently the donors received phone calls from march 14 people all day yesterday, accusing the staff of the Daily Star of having timed the release of the story to the elections to prop up the opposition. The staff of the paper were ordered to print a full rebuttle. They "ordered" them to cover the following topics in the following three issues:
1) Municipal governmence at the Interior Ministry--they included four sources for reporters to interview who surely would allow for a "balanced" article. 2) The Finance Ministry's ease of doing business reforms. 3) The five year industrial program drafted by the Ministry of Industry under Pierre Gemayel. 4) Sami Hadad's leadership at the economy ministry. One editor from the daily star is resigning and telling them to find someone else who does not mind being subject to editorial oversight from the US government.
* This is a reference to the person "administering/securing the grant on behalf of USAID".