The silence of major newspapers and media outlets towards more than half a million leaked documents from Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is deafening.
A total of 61,000 Arabic-language documents, which offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Saudi corridors of power, published by WikiLeaks, are already online.
The information dump reveal secret communications from Saudi embassies, as well as “top secret” reports from other Saudi state institutions, including the Ministry of Interior and the Kingdom's General Intelligence Services. More are set to be published in the coming weeks, according to a press release published by the whistleblowing site.
In the Saudi Cables press release, Wikileaks chose to focus on how the Saudi Kingdom controls the media, by posting an article along with a press release that explains the modus operandi of the Saudi Foreign Ministry. In an attempt to measure the Saudi control over the media, the following is a round up of how the majority of the Lebanese media outlets and a couple of international outlets with a regional presence covered the exposé.
However, “active coverage” doesn't really apply to the majority of the Lebanese media. Journalist and professor Asad Abu Khalil tweeted to his 25K followers:
دعكَ ودعكِ من مضمون وثائق ويكيليكس عن السعوديّة: أليس مُلفتاً ان الإعلام العربي ممنوع عليه التحدّث في الموضوع الذي يشغل الصحافة العالميّة؟
— asad abukhalil (@asadabukhalil) June 20, 2015
Leave us from the content of the Saudi Cables: Isn't it interesting that the Arabic media is not allowed to cover the #SaudiCables which is preoccupying the international media?
MTV Lebanon, one of the main TV stations in Lebanon (which is mentioned in the leaked document 83763 for asking $20 million but received $5 million for the Saudi government), did not publish any news on its website even though it did an extensive coverage back in 2012 and 2011 of similar leaks. MTV only tweeted once:
بزي رداً على ويكيليكس: يروحوا يخيطوا بغير هالمسلة http://t.co/VzGSNmKUBs
— MTV Lebanon News (@MTVLebanonNews) June 22, 2015
Bazzi in response to WikiLeaks: Let them make things up in other matters
The tweet is an article about the reply from Lebanese member of Parliament Ali Bazzi on the information published in doc 113007 that the CIA infiltrated Hezbollah via his role in the Amal movement. Future TV, also tweeted the same tweet as MTV. They reported Bazzi's response:
بزي رداً على ويكيليكس: لسنا في حاجة الى شهادة من أحد في السمعة والتاريخ، لا من “ويكليكس” ولا من غيرها — Future TV :: News (@futuretvnews) June 22, 2015
Bazzi in response to WikiLeaks: We don't need the testimony of anyone in reputation and history, not from WikiLeaks or anyone else
So did Janoubia News:
حزب الله: ننفي ما ورد من اتهامات تجاه بزي في ويكيليكس http://t.co/3ynD41b6ru
— Janoubia.news (@janoubia_news) June 21, 2015
Hizbulla: We deny all the accusations against Bazzi which appeared in Wikileaks
This information constituted NOW Lebanon‘s only coverage of SaudiCables, which was limited to a single post on how US intelligence infiltrated Hezbollah via its ally Amal. They didn't tweet at all about the Saudi Cables, even though a Twitter search show that they also did an extensive coverage of the leaks of 2012 and 2011. Annahar also didn't cover the Saudi Cables; only one tweet was issued from its Twitter account regarding the French Cables. Tweets about ويكيليكس from:annahar since:2015-06-18 until:2015-06-30
On the active coverage front, LBC News, Al Jadeed TV, Al Araby Al Jadeed and OTV covered to a certain extent the Saudi Cables. The tweets and articles show a specific angle of coverage for every channel.
In WikiLeaks newest release, Saudi Arabia admits that [former Lebanese Army Commander Michel] Aoun is the most representative politician for Christians
— LBCI News English (@LBCI_News_EN) June 23, 2015
As for regional and international media, both Al Hayat newspaper and Al Sharq Al awsat didn't have any coverage of the Saudi Cables. The two Saudi-owned outlets were the subject of a complaint by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri that was the leaked in document 118847. Al Sharq el Awsat only tweeted once warning Saudi citizens not to share any leaked documents that are published by “enemies of the Kingdom”:
The Saudi Foreign Affairs Ministry cautions you not to assist the enemies of the Kingdom in publishing or circulating documents
Correct me if I'm wrong or have missed something in the coverage of the Saudi Wikileaks story in Egyptian media. — Sarah El Sirgany (@Ssirgany) June 20, 2015
Lebanese writer Jamal Ghosn tweeted:
— Jamal Ghosn (@jamalghosn) June 27, 2015
BBC Arabic tweeted once an article about the press round-up of reactions to the Saudi Cables:
صحف عربية تتناول وثائق ويكيليكس السعودية http://t.co/0fipuAc5fI
— BBC Arabic بي بي سي (@BBCArabic) June 24, 2015
Arabic newspapers cover WikiLeak's Saudi Cables
Stay tuned as our Global Voices Online team digs up more documents from the leaked cache.
Also check out our coverage on Checkdesk Global Voices, where we are tracking citizen media reactions to the Saudi Cables.