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September 13, 2012 1:30 pm

32 Million Reasons Why Arab Dictators Get Positive Media Coverage

avatar by Ronn Torossian

Bashar and Asma Assad. Photo: wiki commons.

Bashar and Asma Assad. Photo: wiki commons.

Ever wonder why certain Western countries get negative media coverage leading to warped public perception, while others ruled by brutal dictatorships get minimal coverage?

As Lenin emphasized the use of “agitprop,” a combination of political agitation and propaganda designed to win support, so too do Middle East dictators today practice the same.

As of this writing, in Bahrain and Syria, brutal dictators are killing their own people en masse, yet receiving minimal media coverage.  The reason for this is that while they kill, they pay millions to Western PR agencies to manage and influence the media on their behalf. And public relations works.

The Bahrain government has spent $32 Million on US & UK PR Firms since February 2011. Protesters there have received life sentences, and the totalitarian government’s police force brutally oppresses Bahraini citizens.  Yet, leading PR firms work to spin the media in their favor.

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The firm of Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist who ran Howard Dean’s failed presidential campaign in 2004 and served as a senior adviser to John Edwards in his unsuccessful 2008 bid was hired by the kingdom’s Informational Affairs Authority in late 2011 to “provide advice and counsel on social and political reform measures, particularly with regard to the recommendations made by the [BICI],” and to “advise and counsel on the online outreach activities.”

Crisis PR Firms can shape media coverage, and earn their money.  $32 Million can put a lot of pressure on the media.

While 5000 Syrians were killed in August alone, and Assad is continuously slaughtering his people, the coverage is far from the daily headline news it should be.  Syria has shown through the years a thorough and complete understanding of the West and  US PR firm Brown Lloyd James has worked with Syria extensively – In February 2011, a glowing profile in Vogue Magazine described Asma al-Assad, Syria’s First Lady as “glamorous, young, and very chic – the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies.”

Assad continues to work with Western media – he invited UK Journalist Robert Fisk of The Independent to Syria, arranged an interview with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, access to Syrian forces battling insurgents in Aleppo, and interviews with imprisoned foreign fighters and Syrian jihadists.

This media spin of PR agencies for Syria and Bahrain influences public opinion, and therefore world reaction – allowing brutal dictators to stay in power.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR.

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