Cash for Coverage: Deposed Dictator Bought Off Al-Manar

The LA Times picks up on reports that Tunisia’s deposed dictator, Zine el Abidine ben Ali, paid Arab news services — including Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV — large sums of money to burnish his image as a “promoter of human rights.”

Lebanese television stations were reportedly even more voracious. One, parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri’s NBN, “demanded that payments double in order to increase promotional support,” Sabah said.

The newspaper said Al-Manar, which used to receive $150,000 a year to support the Ben Ali regime, asked for an extra $50,000 annually if ACTE wished to raise the profile of the ruler, who now resides in Jeddah with his wife.

Ben Ali didn’t get his money’s worth. The Tunisians who ousted the secular tyrant are now modeling their activities after Hezbollah.

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[sc:graybox ]Cherryl Smith, PhD, is professor emerita in rhetoric and composition at California State University, Sacramento. Her blog is Framing ...