November 23, 2012

Arab Winter: AP Minimizes Visibility of Morsi’s Dictatorial Power Grab in Egypt

So what’s more important, the fact that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was involved in brokering a Gaza-Israeli peace deal which appears to be more than sightly tilted in Hamas’s direction, or the fact that Morsi has opportunistically seized nearly dictatorial powers?

They’re arguably equal, but if compelled to choose, I believe most readers here would contend that because of the difficulties seen throughout human history in undoing such things, Morsi’s power grab is more important. The Associated Press doesn’t share that evaluation. In its summary of “10 Things to Know for Friday” the wire service notes the “peace” accord but not the power grab:


Egypt’s President Morsi emerges from his first major international crisis with enhanced prestige after mediating between sworn enemies Israel and Hamas.

Somewhow, there was room in the “10 Things to Know” for stories about a Notre Dame football game with a Saturday night kickoff, how catalog shipments to consumers have dropped, and a cancelled Chris Brown concert.

Additionally, the story about Morsi’s power grab which was at the AP’s national site for a relatively brief time has been replaced by a terse four-paragraph report titled “PRESIDENT’S BACKERS, RIVALS CLASH IN EGYPT.” The current story mentions Morsi’s “sweeping new powers” twice and that he has put himself “above judicial oversight” once, but provides no details.

Here are excerpts from the AP report many of its subscribing publications and broadcast outlets will miss because they weren’t monitoring their news feeds on a minute-by-minute basis on Thanksgiving Day (carried at Politico, which for all of its considerable faults at least seems to not allow AP to automatically override older stories):

Egypt’s Morsi grants himself far-reaching powers

Egypt’s president on Thursday issued constitutional amendments that placed him above judicial oversight and ordered the retrial of Hosni Mubarak for the killing of protesters in last year’s uprising.

Mohammed Morsi also decreed immunity for the Islamist-dominated panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it, a threat that had been hanging over the controversial assembly.

Liberal and Christian members withdrew from the assembly during the past week to protest what they say is the hijacking of the process by Morsi’s allies, who they saw are trying to push through a document that will have an Islamist slant marginalizing women and minority Christians and infringing on personal liberties. Several courts have been looking into cases demanding the dissolution of the panel.

The Egyptian leader also decreed that all decisions he has made since taking office in June and until a new constitution is adopted and a new parliament is elected — which is not expected before next spring — are not subject to appeal in court or by any other authority. He also barred any court from dissolving the Islamist-led upper house of parliament, a largely toothless body that has also faced court cases.

The moves effectively remove any oversight on Morsi, the longtime Muslim Brotherhood figure who became Egypt’s first freely elected president last summer after the Feb. 11, 2011 fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. They come as Morsi is riding high on lavish praise from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for mediating an end to eight days of fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

… The president made most of the changes Thursday by issuing a declaration amending what has become a patchwork interim constitution in effect since Mubarak’s fall. The military, which took power after Mubarak, set the precedent for the executive unilaterally issuing constitutional changes, which it did several times during its 16-month rule.

The moves are likely to fuel growing public criticism that Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood have monopolized power while doing little to tackle the country’s endemic woes. Thousands of demonstrators gathered in downtown Cairo for the fourth day running to protest against Morsi’s policies and criticize the Muslim Brotherhood, the fundamentalist group from which the Egyptian leader hails.

The decree for a retrial of Mubarak appeared aimed at making a gesture to the public.

It seems more important to AP that Morsi be recognized for a supposedly heroic “peace” accord whose lifespan, based on the track record of such efforts in the past, is likely to be short, than it is for people to learn that he has likely ended the so-called “Arab Spring” in Egypt, plunging that country of over 80 million into Islamist, dictatorial darkness, endangering the lives of all who might attempt to oppose it.

What has transpired should be a humiliating embarrassment to the Obama administration, its supporters, and its press apparatchiks. It is now drop-dead obvious that their characterization of the Arab Spring as some kind of wondrous movement towards democracy was a stupendous error, and that critics who warned of what the Muslim Brotherhood would do in Egypt once they achieved power have been thoroughly and tragically vindicated.

No wonder the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, has minimized its visibility.

Cross-posted at


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