UPDATE: This post is a continuation of the post immediately below it, Mr. Mubarak Goes to Washington.
Al-Shorouk has an occasional annoying habit of committing acts that can’t properly be considered journalism, in which they find some press release or conference agenda then print it as news. Which it is, in the sense of conveying to the reader something that he or she may not have known, but it’s also just a glorified press release.
TBE has decided to adopt it as a modus reportandi as well. This just in:
TBE has noticed an asterisk next to Gamal Mubarak’s name on the Arab Global Forum’s agenda, along with those of many other attendees. The asterisk means that he is an “invited guest,” a rather ambiguous term that could signal a) that other attendees and panelists are uninvited but since they have a well-known propensity to crash conferences and convene wildcat panels, the organizers have thrown their collective hands up and decided to put them on the agenda; b) Gamal (along with Saad Hariri and many others) have been invited but haven’t responded, acting like primo dons just because they can; or, c) that asterisk is a mark of distinction, the technological/technocratic version of the military medal that would’ve been pinned to their chests in the olden days.
Burned After Reading
The agenda, which al-Shorouk rather breathlessly said was “secret,” is in fact labeled “confidential” but is also freely available on the conference’s own website, which makes us think that either al-Shorouk’s reporter was overly credulous or else was trying to pull a fast one.
No “Robust Public Option” for Egypt?
Al-Shorouk also missed the one panel in the program that could have started a (justified or not) firestorm in the Egyptian press: Minister of Health Hatem al-Gebaly’s participation in a panel on private investment in health care. As is well understood in both US and Egyptian politics, entitlements, once enacted, are sacrosanct, and people react strongly at the slightest hint of privatization and/or doing away with benefits. That’s why Republicans (and a few Democrats) are fighting tooth-and-nail to defeat health care reform in the US, and why social security was such a political winner for Democrats in 2006 and removing food subsidies was such a political loser for Sadat in 1977.
Some Notable Absences
By TBE’s count there is exactly one Republican invited or attending (excluding Roy LaHood), and that’s Chuck Hagel, who is basically the Republican version of a “tenured radical.” Considering the party’s current direction, that’s not unexpected, we suppose, but tokenism is a powerful force in US politics…
Likewise the lack of Arab journalists invited to sit on panels (or just sit pretty on the dais while others do the talking, as the case may be). There are a large number of prestige US journalists attending, but we don’t see any Arab scribes of similar stature in the program.
Having carefully weighed the evidence, we’re inclined to believe that Gamal and his entourage will attend, despite some initial skepticism, for the following reasons:
- As the original article pointed out, the event is co-sponsored by Egypt’s International Economic Forum, and is primarily oriented toward Egypt and the Gulf.
- Claude Smadja, founder of principal of Smadja and Associates, is no joke. He was previously the Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, and we’re sure his firm was brought on board in part to leverage his contact list.
The age-old journalistic question, “Who’s paying for this shindig?” still applies.
Dept. of Unintentional Humor
A cheap joke, we know, but the hotel name… Hello? Couldn’t they have held it at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City? It’s sooooo much more convenient to the shopping at Tyson’s.