NPR gets credit for getting French-speaking reporter, Eleanor Beardsley into the capital of Tunisia by Friday morning. Her reports have provided some dramatic first-person accounts of police repression and the chaos of the revolutionary scenario in the capital. However, NPR's general coverage lays the blame for the uprising on Tunisia's dictatorial regime and the spike in food prices - while avoiding any in-depth discussion of two important elements of the Tunisian uprising:
A discussion of these two threads practically begs to be covered, given the WikiLeak cable on the US awareness of repression and corruption in Tunisia - a cable that was widely know and discussed in Tunisia [and terrifies our newest
thug ally in the "war on terror."] And more cables on US complicity in Tunisian repression and cronyism were released yesterday. Amazingly, Beardsley trumpets the role of social media in the Tunisian uprising but WikiLeaks is never mentioned (search NPR "heard on air" for Wikileaks + Tunisia and you get zilch as of Sunday afternoon!).
As far as the role of neoliberal economics (and US foreign policy) in compounding North Africa's miseries, not only does NPR completely ignore it, but to explain rising food prices there turns to Gary Blumenthal, who
"served as Deputy Assistant for Cabinet Liaison to former President George Bush, and as Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture Trade and Food Assistance....served as Executive Assistant and then as Chief of Staff to then Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter, providing oversight of all operations in this large federal agency (110,000 employees) and exercising continuous scrutiny over $65 billion worth of programs including research, education, production, domestic and international marketing, food safety and inspection, nutrition, environment, public affairs, economic analysis, legal counsel and administration matters related to USDA's mission in the U.S. and in 60 countries around the world. He also served with the Foreign Agricultural Service as Legislative Director, and as a Legislative Assistant to Congressman Larry J. Hopkins (R-KY)."
Mr. Blumenthal explains that rising food prices in the Maghreb are the result of increased demand and "imperfect weather." How's that for insight?
Eleanor Beardsley has mentioned several times in her reports that people in Tunis are watching Aljazeera TV - too bad none of Aljazeera's coverage is finding its way into NPR's coverage. I'd also recommend Juan Cole's Informed Comment for far more substantive coverage and analysis of the Tunisian revolution.