It was no surprise tonight that nearly every Lebanese TV channel (above) ran a live feed of Sayed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech. The Hezbollah leader, who speaks only by video conference for fear of assassination, is arguably the most powerful figure in Lebanon–his words could ignite or help resolve the country’s ongoing political crisis. So wall-to-wall coverage was a no brainer on local TV–except for on Hezbollah opponent Saad Hariri’s channel, which expectedly ignored the most important story of the day for emotional reasons.
More interesting was the coverage beyond Lebanon’s borders. As a powerful player in a breaking story impacting the entire region, Nasrallah’s words were picked up by the two main Arab news networks, Al Jazeera:
And Al Arabiya, which leans toward American policy, and cut the speech short to bring in a Hezbollah opponent’s comments.
The contrast between Iranian and Syrian coverage was more dramatic.
Both Al Alam and Press TV, Iran’s Arabic and English language mouthpieces, viewed the speech as breaking news and aired it live, in its hour or so entirety.
But for Syria TV, the event passed without a mention during the nightly newscast that was broadcast at the same time as the speech:
Could it be a reflection of politics? Are news editors employed by the Iranian government allowed to be more trusting of what Nasrallah has to say than their Syrian counterparts? Does it speak to the Syrian philosophy on power, i.e. that voices of authority should come only from Damascus?
Or was it simply a question of newsworthiness? Of course Nasrallah, a key ally on the eve of a major crisis, had stiff competition in Syrian newsland: today’s report on the Syrian pound’s performance.