EXCLUSIVE: An In-Depth Look at the Egyptian Election

By Alex Baum

TUESDAY – 5/1/18

When comparing the media coverage in an independent, democratic nation such as the United States versus a nation with various undemocratic characteristics, such as Egypt, the vast differences as to how events are portrayed become clear.  This proves to be evident when examining the American and Egyptian media coverage of the recent 2018 Egyptian elections. In the United States, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s almost uncontested victory faced criticism and condemnation. Conversely, Sisi’s silencing of critics in the media created an independent Egyptian media with a limited ability to debate the controversies of the election. Moreover, the state affiliated media outlets downplayed Sisi’s controversies, such as the arrest of opposing candidates, through their use of pro-Sisi propaganda.  As a result of the different ways each nation frames the election, the critical American coverage provides a much more complex understanding of the controversies of the election and its consequences compared to the regulated, biased Egyptian media coverage, whose purpose is to emphasize the beliefs of their leader.

One distinct example of the different ways the American and Egyptian media frame the elections is evident when comparing the coverage of the case of Sami Anan.  Anan, a former General and Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, was arrested just days after announcing his intentions to run for President.  The majority of the American media portrayed this as a move by Sisi to curb his competition, arguing that Sisi is willing to go very far to ensure his victory, even if it means detaining a very renowned and respected senior official. After the arrest, Foreign Policy described the Egyptian political climate as being controlled by Sisi’s “iron fist,” in which “only one candidate is allowed to run.” (Foreign Policy) Overall, they condemn the undemocratic practices of the Egyptian political system, concluding that “if there was any doubt that Egypt’s upcoming presidential election will be neither free nor fair,” the arrest of Anan has made it clear. (Ibid)

The Egyptian articles not only lack criticism, but moreover any personal opinion about the arrest of Sami Anan.  The articles are solely explanatory of the numerous violations that led to Anan’s arrest and don’t contain any political discourse, which is abundant throughout the American articles covering this story.  At times the Egyptian media’s explanation of Anan’s arrest, such as his “foregory” of official documents, seem to aim to justify his arrest. (Egyptian Independent, Sakr) In addition to the political discourse, the American articles also provide crucial details of the arrest which cannot be found in neither independent nor state owned Egyptian media coverage.  For example, the American media mention how Anan was “dragged out of his car by armed men” just days after his announcement to run. (Vice) They also include details about the rest of thirty other members of Anan’s campaign.  Neither the details of Anan’s arrest nor the fact that thrity members of his campaign staff were arrested and being held in an unknown location can be found in most Egyptian media outlets.  Unlike the basic reporting of the violations by Anan that led to his arrest by the Egyptian media, the American media, through interviews and personal opinions, explain how Anan’s arrest was unlawful and reflects Sisi’s authoritarian rule. Additionally, they present details about the arrest which simply can’t be found in the Egyptian media, further providing their readers with a better understanding of the injustices of the election.  With the absence of these crucial details, the arrest of Sami Anan looks routine and plausible to the Egyptian reader, who is thus unaware of the injustices being committed by Sisi.

The difference in the way the American and Egyptian media frame the election is due to the lack of freedom of speech that Sisi’s administration permits, resulting from an ongoing attack on Egyptians’ human rights.   Such attacks on Egyptian citizens’ rights have been condemned by much of the American media, including the Washington Post, who cited Sisi’s extrajudicial killings and the blocking down of “hundreds of websites deemed critical of his regime.”  (Washington Post) The Post, describing his regime as authoritarian, mentioned numerous critical comments of the regime made by some very prominent Egyptians. For instance, one member of the Strong Egypt Party stated how “It is unacceptable for the regime for people to have even a hint of an alternative political force other than them. No one can replace them, and that is their message.” (Ibid) Even a former Presidential candidate, Mohamed Anwar Sadat, spoke out against the undemocratic election, calling it a “controlled democracy.” (Ibid) Although there is no consensus on the critiques of the Egyptian political system among the American media, as some call the regime “authoritarian” while others call it a “controlled democracy,” the criticism that is abundant throughout the American media cannot be found in the Egyptian media.  This lack of criticism in the Egyptian media further reflects the American media’s more thorough understanding of the election controversies.

The acts of the Egyptian state to silence critics and regulate news have given Sisi the ability to downplay the criticisms of the electoral process through the media, which often serve as pro-Sisi propaganda. These news outlets often focus on other subjects to distract attention away from the controversies of the election. For instance, the state owned media heavily focused on the turnout of the election.  Nile International described Sisi’s plea to the Egyptian people to vote, and “make their voices heard.” (Nile International) Even some independent media outlets served as propaganda as well, by refuting claims that the election process was undemocratic. For example, the independent news organization Egyptian Streets uses President Sisi himself to respond to the concerns of Egyptian citizens. One of the major concerns that he responds to is the lack of competition he faced in the election.  Sisi responded to these complaints by saying that he was not at fault for the absence of other candidates, stating that the “country’s political scene” is not ready yet. “I was hoping to have up to 10 candidates in this elections,” he stated in response to his criticism.  (Egyptian Streets) Sisi’s reassurances to his concerned citizens about the lack of competition is ironic, as he has arrested and forced his opposing candidates to resign. Yet, he expresses his “desire” for competition and a better political system. Sisi has in fact crippled Egypt’s democratic system through his attacks on his opposition and control over the media.  

An article by Al Ahram Weekly newspaper similarly minimized the criticisms of the lack of democracy through various articles that include interviews with Egyptian citizens concerning the election.  While Al Ahram Weekly mention several citizens who refuse to vote because the election has a foregone conclusion, they are quick to strike down these concerns. For instance, the government affiliated newspaper cites a citizen who gives a reason for the limited number of candidates, as he states that this is, “due to the massive popularity of Al-Sisi.”  (Ahram, Turnout is key) He further insists that “people knew in advance that they would lose and so opted not to contest the poll.” (Ibid) Not only is the support for Sisi almost universal throughout their coverage of the election, but Al Ahram is striking back against claims that the elections were undemocratic, thus serving as another example of the pro-Sisi propaganda abundant throughout the state sponsored media.

The Egyptian media also heavily focuses on how Sisi’s victory strengthened Egypt’s connections with other countries.  Nile International cited Sisi’s many congratulations by other Arab leaders on his Presidential victory, highlighting how the international community supported Sisi and the “democratic” process he used to win election.  They then argued how the victory reaffirmed their alliances with numerous nations, specifically the United States, stressing how the victory “affirmed the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt.”  (Nile International) While the White House did congratulate Sisi on his victory, it would be incorrect to say that Egypt’s electoral process is entirely endorsed by the United States. Although the State Department also stressed the partnership between the two nations, they also cited the “constraints on freedom” that the election posed, furthermore adding how they will “continue to encourage a broadening of opportunities for political participation for Egyptians, and emphasize the importance of the protection of human rights.” (Nile International) While the Egyptian media portrays their nation’s relations with the United States as being reaffirmed by Sisi’s victory, the American media yet again provides more details that truly explain the relationship between the two states.  They do this by framing the issue as a multifaceted situation, by mentioning both the responses of the White House and the State Department, unlike the Egyptian media who biasedly and solely mentions the positive response they want to hear from the White House.   This more thorough examination of each actor in this complex situation thus serves as an example of how the American media’s critical coverage provides a deeper understanding of the Egyptian elections, and the consequences they have, specifically with their relations with the United States.  

The different coverage of the Egyptian elections by the American and Egyptian media result from the distinct ways each frame the election.  While the American media criticizes and condemns Sisi for his undemocratic victory, the independent Egyptian media is unable to openly debate the election as a result of the Egyptian regulation of the media. Furthermore, the Egyptian media uses propaganda for Sisi to refute the numerous controversies in his electoral victory.  Thus, a more complete and accurate understanding of the election is given by the more critical American media coverage than the pro-Sisi propaganda published by the Egyptian media.


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Migrant Caravan Stops at U.S. – Mexico Border

By Nick Baum

MONDAY – 4/30/18

The annual migrant caravan, starting in Central America and ending at the American border, has finally reached its last point. After a month of driving, more than 200 migrants from various parts of Central America have gathered in Tijuana, Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.

So far, the caravan is currently waiting at the border, waiting for approval by U.S. Border Patrol Officers so that they can seek asylum. Earlier, a group broke off from the rest of the caravan and tried scaling a tall fence in an effort to cross the border illegally.

However, they were detained and arrested. The rest of the migrants are spending their days and nights waiting in shelters across the city, as many city residents prepared for the crowded caravan.

Sources: CNN, The Wall Street Journal

NFL Draft in Review

By Nick Baum

SUNDAY – 4/29/18

This year’s NFL Draft proved to be very exciting as a combination of top quarterbacks from college as well as other prospects rushed out into teams needing more depth. All 32 NFL teams took 8 turns, with 256 picks.

The Cleveland Browns had the first overall pick in the draft for the second time in a row, picking Baker Mayfield, a quarterback for Oklahoma. The Browns, through a trade, also got the fourth overall pick, and the Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles got the last pick of the round.

Notable picks in the draft include the Buffalo Bill’s pick of Josh Rosen, Wyoming quarterback, as many fans of the team panned the decision. The “slider” of the draft, or player who waited longer to get drafted than expected, was Derrius Guice, LSU running back, in which many teams were concerned about his behavior and attitude. He was drafted in the third round by the Washington Redskins, the same team who drafted “Mr. Irrelevant”, the last pick of the draft, Virginia Tech wide receiver Trey Quinn.

Sources: Fox 8, ESPN, NFL.com

EXCLUSIVE: The Up and Down Economy

By Nick Baum

SATURDAY – 4/28/18

Both the economy and the stock market have gone through a roller coaster of a ride these past few months, the results of a growing economy interrupted by the possibilities of a trade war with China.

Months ago, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the average that measures how will the stock market is doing, had hit 26,000 points, its highest of all time. While many debated on who was to credit for the spike, a trade war was soon to follow and drop it.

US President Donald Trump announced billions of dollars in new tariffs to be added in order to promote American manufacturing and industries. While this could be true, the stock market rapidly declined, and has even reached 22,000, the lowest so far this year.

Stocks could be going up once again, as signs of a trade war have faded away and peace starts to stabilize through the Korean peninsula, it can give some companies a chance at making great profits, as well as spreading influence.

Sources: Fox News, The Wall Street Journal

Kim Jong Un Meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-In

By Nick Baum

FRIDAY – 4/27/18

Hours ago, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed the border into South Korea to meet President of South Korea Moon Jae-In. The visit, being the first time a North Korean crossed the border since the Korean War, was held to discuss peace talks between the two nations, simultaneously at war since the start of the Korean War, Post World War II.

President Jae-In was also welcomed to cross the North Korean border, before having the two leaders pose for photos on the South Korean side. While the two leaders met, they discussed topics related to peace between the two states, including possible denuclearization and an end to the Korean War later this year.

However, despite North Korea stating they will cease all nuclear tests, they still haven’t announced whether they will get rid of their nuclear arsenal, an undecided move that has drawn skepticism from some. Also, North Korean State Media, the company responsible for announcing North Korea’s decision to cease all nuclear tests, was unusually silent during the decision, only airing a short speech about the meeting before airing a documentary on the life of Kim Jong Il.

Sources: CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press

LeBron James Makes Amazing Buzzer Beater to Win Game 5

By Nick Baum

THURSDAY – 4/26/18

The National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs have proved to be a fun and exciting atmosphere. The Cleveland Cavaliers, 2016-17 season runner-ups and 2015-16 season champions, have struggled recently in their first round.

The Cavaliers are struggling against a worse off Indiana Pacers team, who has constantly played up and held on to the series. By Game 5, the series score was 2-2 until LeBron James pulled up one of his best games yet. Besides scoring 44 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists, James also hit the game winning shot that would shift the series in their favor, a 2 game winning streak after losing the series to the Pacers 2-1.

As the shot clock winded down, the score was tied 95-95 with seconds remaining. James got the ball at the free throw line, a very crowded free throw line with many Pacers swarming around him trying to force an overtime. However, James got out of the pile, dribbling backwards to the point where he was two feet behind the three point line, and then decided to shoot it, sending the ball ripping through the net and a game winner.

Sources: ESPN, Bleacher Report

OPINION: We Need to Pull Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal

By Nick Baum

WEDNESDAY – 4/25/18

Just yesterday, President Trump stated that he hopes to be out of the Iran Nuclear Deal as soon as possible, and honestly, I couldn’t agree more with the decision. I have said that same line before regarding President Trump, but his words are in the right line of fire, even if his actions aren’t.

Trump complained about the deal, calling it “ridiculous”, as it is, and just thinking about it makes you cringe. The United States pays Iran billions of dollars and in return Iran has to stop creating nuclear weapons, and they still didn’t.

Not only are we going back on our important roots by funding these terrorists, but when they continue to keep funding their program, it proves that Obama is not only a poor negotiator but he simply doesn’t understand foreign policy. Iran is our enemy, even if we pay them so much money, they will continue to do their evil things!

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, CNBC