Libya’s journalist bubble

According to an article in today’s Washington Post, journalists invited to Libya (in a show of feigned openness by the Gaddafi regime) are trapped within a luxury hotel – whirlpool baths inside, guards with guns outside – supposedly for their safety. Their trips are planned ahead of time, and Gaddafi supporters always seem to show up en masse right when the journalists’ bus makes an appearance.

But if Gaddafi locked these foreign journalists in their luxury hotel cage in order to give them a government-mandated view of life in Libya, then his plan seems to be backfiring. His regime might claim it’s for the journalists’ protection from rebels and civilians, but the strict rules in the hotel (journalists can’t even cross the street without a government official) suggest otherwise – that the goal is protecting the government from exposure in foreign media. The most telling example: Journalists who anger the government are shipped out of the country in the middle of the night.

To be honest, the worst thing Gaddafi could do for his regime’s reputation (at least in the media) is lock up the journalists. Nothing screams “violent, controlling dictatorship” like carefully-orchestrated trips to pro-Gaddafi demonstrations and armed guards wrestling civilians out of the hotel. Civilians such as Iman al-Obaidi, who was dragged out while screaming about her rape at the hands of Gaddafi soldiers. Such actions cast the government in a suspicious light (to put it mildly), which diminishes any effect the (possibly staged) demonstrations might have. The best course of action for Gaddafi would have been to let the journalists go where they pleased – then they would have a chance to actually talk to pro-Gaddafi civilians. Instead, this cushy cage reveals more ugly truths about Gaddafi’s regime than simply wandering the streets could. Something is indeed rotten in Libya, and these imprisoned journalists are learning all about it.

Check out the article here: Reporters in Tripoli find it’s a Big Brother world

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