Could the Media Have Been More Wrong About Egypt?

Remember when Mohammed Morsi was voted into power in Egypt and we were told not to worry because the military had all the power? Sunday, Morsi fired Egypt’s top military leaders, including the defense minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

Not long ago, Tantawi himself vowed now to let the Muslim Brotherhood dominate Egypt. “It was an authoritative signal that the military has no intention of giving the Brotherhood free rein,” the Washington Post said on July 16.

That was less than a month ago! That was around the same time the New York Times told us how revealing it was that the Egyptian media stood behind the military. “[A]s Mr. Morsi moved this week to challenge the generals,” the Times wrote July 13, “the state media have quickly allied with the generals, persistently undercutting the new president while still ostensibly honoring his position. That apparently contradictory result has made it clear who still holds the real power over the Egyptian bureaucracy.”

On July 4, a columnist at the Toronto Star explained that the Egyptian army controlled the defense, interior and foreign ministries and the purse strings of Egypt. He wrote, “Morsi has been reduced to being mayor of Egypt.”

Sunday, the so-called mayor sacked the Egyptian military hierarchy. Morsi’s grip on power tightened last week after he fired the head of General Intelligence following a terrorist attack in northern Sinai that killed 16 Egyptian policemen. Sunday, he followed that act by firing the defense minister the army chief of staff, and the commanders of the navy, air defense and air force.

These maneuvers, the New York Times now tells us, cemented a major shift in power in Egypt.

A Washington Post columnist says it’s now indisputable that the Muslim Brotherhood has “tightened its grip on Egypt, controlling the military as well as the presidency and the parliament” (August 12).

In reading all of the coverage from the last 24 hours, you would never know that it was the major media that told us at the beginning that the Arab Spring in Egypt was a victory for freedom and democracy. They told us the Muslim Brotherhood would not gain the majority that they wanted in Parliament, that the Brotherhood would never have a candidate for the presidency or that a Brotherhood member would never be president in Egypt. And they told us when Morsi was elected that the military council would retain full control.

Today, the Washington Post acknowledges the “indisputable” truth that the Muslim Brotherhood controls the presidency, the parliament and the military.