Image Credit: CNNWhile a nationwide uprising in Egypt calls for democracy, the movement’s opponents — supporters of President Hosni Mubarak — have been attacking the international media who have converged there to cover the conflict. With what seems like unprecedented frequency and focus, prominent U.S. television reporters — along with many other foreign journalists, from Al Jazeera and the BBC to Reuters and the Associated Press — have faced pointed aggression from angry mobs, including a highly publicized assault yesterday on CNN’s Anderson Cooper and his crew in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Demonstrators tried to grab the camera, punched the cameraman and Cooper, and scratched Cooper’s producer before the reporter and crew could retreat to a more secure location, where he told viewers about the attack.
Later, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric was crowded by demonstrators as she filmed in the city, while CBS correspondent Lara Logan reported that the Egyptian army is now preventing crews from covering the protests. “For the first time in the last few days you can really feel what dictatorship means,” she said.
ABC’s Christiane Amanpour told anchor Diane Sawyer, “They have really taken it out on the press, they’re blaming the press, those pro-Mubarak supporters, for all their woes. And they were very menacing. They told us not to go in when we tried to go in this afternoon or take our destiny into our own hands, they warned.” Today, Fox News reported that a crew led by correspondent Greg Palkot was “severely beaten” after fleeing the scene where a Molotov cocktail was thrown, and they were hospitalized overnight for their injuries. And NBC’s Lester Holt reported on this morning’s Today show via phone, explaining, “Suffice to say there’s some who want to limit the flow of information here, so we’re kind of on the move.” Holt said he couldn’t shoot even with a small cell-phone camera without being endangered:
Of course, while journalists have faced frightening intimidation and hostility, hundreds of citizens have been injured and killed — with death toll estimates ranging from 100 to 300 since the uprising began last week. But the high visibility of the U.S. media under attack has brought the conflict into Americans’ living rooms — and consciousness — in a whole new way.