According to Fox News host Shepard Smith, the public relations strategy of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the wake of the turmoil in Egypt is similar to that of another public relations strategy in recent memory.
Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, otherwise known as “Baghdad Bob,” was the Iraqi information minister known for his daily press briefings in Baghdad during the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, which included his denial of the inevitable. He repeatedly denied the possibility that the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein was in jeopardy or under any serious threat from the invading American forces.
To Smith, the similarities between the two press relations strategies are striking. On his Thursday broadcast of “Studio B,” he went through the time line of events leading up to the current turmoil on the streets of Cairo, all of which he said were the current regime’s own making.
“Remember, this did not just happen,” Smith said. “Remember this? First of all she shut down the Internet? Remember? The shutdown SMSs so you couldn’t text. Remember? They shut down Facebook. They shut down Twitter. Remember? Then as they organized protests in the square, Tahrir Square was not going to be a big thing. It all got organized initially in mosques. People were told ‘go to your mosque,’ and then they’ll tell you where to go for peaceful protesting and then after that they did not need the Internet. What they really needed was to be able to get around because they didn’t know where to go except for Tahrir Square, the largest square in all of the country and certainly Cairo. That’s where they go. So what do they do then? They shut the trains down. Couldn’t get there by train and then they blocked off the outsides of the corridors of that place. Every side street was blocked off by someone. Then they fought in the streets and they threw Molotov cocktails in the streets and they began to kill people. They set cars on fire. They detained and beat journalists.”
Then, as Smith explained, Mubarak gives an interview to ABC’s Christiane Amanpour and insists he is unable to step down after all these extraordinary measures.
“And then the president goes to Christiane Amanpour and says I wish I could step down but I can’t there is violence in the streets,” he continued. “Remember Baghdad Bob?”