The World Reacts: A Tale of Two Talk Shows

| October 22, 2001

The World Reacts:A Tale of Two Talk Shows

Television talk shows the world round tackle many of the same issues. Writing for, Tarek Atia compares a Middle Eastern talk show to a televised BBC debate and finds that they both rile the audience and ignore context.

Al-Biyoot Asrar (House of Secrets) tries to address the question 'Why Arabs Hate the U.S.,' but the panel of writers and journalists ends up focusing on the validity of the 'American Dream' and its similarity to imperialism. One panelist points out that Arabs need to decide whether or not they believe in elements of the 'American Dream,' such as freedom and equality before they discount all that comes from the West.

Meanwhile a BBC debate featuring news corespondents and analysts degenerates into a kind of yelling match and -- like the Middle Eastern talk show -- fails to examine new and thoughtful points of view. At one point the host asks if the broadcasting on TV of Osama bin Laden's call to kill Americans was irresponsible. Robert Fisk tries to question the lack of context of bin Laden's statements, however, the show runs out of time, and it ends with the haunting question, 'Is the propaganda war more important?'

'What they [both shows] reveal about the crisis at hand,' Atia concludes, 'is the need for greater understanding between societies and peoples around the world.'
--Sara V. Buckwitz
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