In today's tour of state-sponsored propaganda, President Bashar al-Assad's propaganda war moves to Twitter, Hugo Chavez's physical condition is "excelente" and North Korea is confused by the Trayvon Martin case. We begin in Syria.
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From an Actual War to a Twitter War
On Monday night, pro-Assad forces hacked into the Twitter account of the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel and began disseminating a flurry of false news stories. "The Qatari prime minister’s daughter is arrested in London," read one message. "Qatar’s army chief stages a coup against the emir," read another. "Hamad bin Jassim, the prime minister, is sacked" read a third. As Roula Khalaf and Abeer Allam at Financial Times report, "None of these stories is true, but for a while Syria’s embattled regime tried to make them credible partly thanks to a group of loyal hackers." The FT says by targeting the Saudi-owned news service, Assad was trying to depict the conflict in his country as a fight between noble Syria and a band of rich Gulf monarchies bent on destroying Syria. "To a certain extent the regional battle is real," writes the Times, "Qatar and Saudi Arabia, long-time rivals in the region, have been remarkably unified over Syria, and have taken the harshest line against Mr Assad."
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According to Al Arabiya, this wasn't the only way Assad's regime tried to thwart it. When the news service broke the story about Assad's leaked e-mails, it was under constant electronic jamming from the regime. Additionally, "Al Arabiya website has been blocked in Syria," reports the news service. "On March 27, hackers affiliated to Assad’s electronic army hacked the account of Al Arabiya English on Facebook, but it was restored a few hours later." Unfortunately for Assad these types of cheap propaganda stunts aren't going to turn the tide of popular opinion that has swelled against him.
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Chavez's Physical Condition Is "¡Excelente!"
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Today, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez broke his 10-day silence during his cancer treatments in Cuba, a gap in communication that left observers around the world speculating that he died. In a video conference recorded in Havana, Chavez said “I’m sure that God will intervene in this treatment to ensure everything turns out well.” If that wasn't enough to assure Venezuelans, the government's state TV channel has been working over-time to pickup the slack. Venezolana Televisión is running a photo essay about Chavez's "excellent" physical condition, inviting viewers to see how healthy he is in his athletic jumpsuits. All better?
North Korea Is Confused About the Trayvon Martin Case
In a rather blunt statement today, a headline from the state-owned Korean Central News Agency reads "Racism, Misanthropy Rampant in U.S." What follows is an explanation of the Trayvon Martin shootings through the eyes of Pyongyang, which, in this case, is very misguided. First off, North Korea seems to think Martin was killed by a police officer not a neighborhood watch captain. "Teenage black schooler Martin was shot to death on way home by a chasing white policeman in Florida on Feb. 26." Another error: KCNA seems to think Zimmerman didn't turn himself in, which he did. "Even at the press conference the court's side shielded the killer of Martin, claiming that he turned himself up to the law. This touched off the people's uproar," reads the story. The only thing more comical than the fact errors is the cartoonish way North Korea interprets the case to make an observation about America:
Pyongyang, April 24 (KCNA) -- Black people in the U.S. are bound to fall victim to killings by whites for the mere reason that they are black but they have no place to complain of this injustice. This is what happens in the U.S.
Well, no one ever said the editors at KCNA had a light touch.
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