Today in Egypt: Don't Believe Everything You Read

The thugs #AJ keeps reporting at pres palace is group of 30 posh-looking men & women chanting EGYPT. They just want others 2 stop protestingFri Feb 11 13:37:48 via Mobile Web

Nadia El-Awady

• The events of the Egyptian Revolution are often subject to a giant game of telephone. Today it’s: “Thugs at the Presidential Palace!” No wait: “Peaceful friendly protests!” And you saw what happened yesterday. Someone — two someones, really — who worked somewhere in the Egyptian government said “I think Mubarak is going to step down today!” And then nearly everyone went hog wild. One thing that’s important in these times is to ask yourself: How many actual reporters, with actual background in the country and actual Egypt government sources, do you think are in Egypt at this time? I’m going to go with “maybe that one dude from the Guardian, that nice lady from the BBC, and also Al Jazeera, up in Doha.” So you know, I say it with kindness: take it easy on the retweet button, ya know?

• There’s been a ton of conflicting information this morning. The most-conflicted message so far today is: did Mubarak leave Cairo? The Times says he did, “according to a Western official,” or “a Western diplomat.” (There was, irritatingly, no mention given to why a “Western diplomat” was speaking under condition of anonymity! The more paranoid among us might give a wide reading to “diplomat.”) Al-Jazeera says that Agence France-Presse says it’s true. The Guardian credits it to al-Arabiya. Everyone else says Reuters says this: “Mohamed Abdelllah, senior member of ruling party, also said that he had information that Mubarak was heading to Sharm el-Sheikh.” But… that’s still Egypt, by the way, my fellow Westerners — though it’s a short hop to Saudi Arabia from there! The point being… Mubarak is likely still in the country! It doesn’t actually matter that he left Cairo! Think of this as like the American President going to Camp David.

• Pop quiz! Who is “the first European Union leader to call for Mubarak’s resignation”?

The answer is: Lars Rasmussen! The prime minister of… Denmark. Surprise!

• Demonstrations are enormous today. I mean huge! This is an incredible thing!

Most amusing: “Egypt’s military high council has promised to lift the country’s 30-year state of emergency when the ‘current situation has ended.’” What’s very confusing to us westerners is the notion of the army as an independent decision-making body! This morning, the army’s goals were to back “Mubarak’s process of slow transition” — and they still repeat calls for the protestors to go home. Guess what, that is not ever going to happen.

• As great as they are, even Al-Jazeera runs into American-style cable programming issues. Heh.

Al Jazeera now showing a random beach shot from Sharm al-Sheikhless than a minute ago via Twitter for Mac

Blake Hounshell

• As a sign of how fast things move: this morning’s paper New York Times headline is Mubarak Won’t Quit, Stoking Revolt’s Fury and Resolve. Now, online? “Mubarak Reportedly Leaves Cairo: Signs Grow of Full Transfer of Power.” So.