Yesterday, LBC interrupted its regular programing to bring us a live speech by Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces.
Much of his monologue was devoted to mocking retired general Michel Aoun, his arch rival. Incidentally Aoun gave his own speech a day earlier, which LBC also brought us live.
Aoun and Geagea have been fighting since the 1980s, when they led rival forces during the bloodiest chapter of the civil war– a period when tens of thousands of Lebanese were killed, maimed or paralyzed for life.
It’s hard to believe that after all that death and destruction, either of these two men would be fit to lead the country to brighter times. Neither has been held accountable for the violence they orchestrated.
Yet both Geagea and Aoun continue to dominate Lebanese politics and their every word is automatically carried as breaking news by channels like LBC.
But why do these two men get so much air time? Technically speaking, neither holds a significant position in government. Aoun was elected to parliament but is not a member of cabinet. Geagea did not even run for elected office.
In fact, it seems much of the two mens’ power is derived from the media platform and the aura of authority it grants them. Of course both run propagandistic news channels or have friends that do, which doesn’t hurt. But even the unfriendly stations help elevate their respective paymasters’ rivals by covering them incessantly as enemies of the state–and ‘breaking news’ at that.
But I wonder. If Aoun, Geagea or any other politician gave a speech in a forest, and no TV station carried it, would anyone hear him?