"The Lebanese Press and Media Crisis"
By: General Michel Aoun

(Translated by: Elias Bejjani)
9 January 1998

In the last week's commentary, entitled "Freedom of the Press" some important conditions that make the press vulnerable to criticism and reservations were outlined with regard to its performance and credibility. At the same time, we affirmed our ongoing strong stance for a free press without restriction, conditions or limits. After publishing the commentary, we were surprised by the strange coincidental escalation of these conditions--further evidence of falsification and exaggeration.

Faced with this odd situation, we had to issue a press release putting an end to the ongoing wrongdoing. In fact, if our names had not been mentioned in some of the bizarre press commentaries, we would not have noticed that they targeted us and not somebody else.

We don't want media that claims independence to be pro-opposition or anti-government, nor pro-regime or against the opposition, for both stances would be wrong. We want the media to be a mirror reflecting the truth through which an authentic, honest, and effective public opinion can be formulated far away from non-reasoned, instinctive reactions that inflict self-destruction in society by destroying the foundations of the national peace.

Controlled media that is submissive to the ruling authorities imposes the "one way thinking" concept, and destroys all that is opposing. It creates hatred and grudges among the people.
The Lebanese media have been, of late, muzzled in a horrifying manner, to the extent that they are no longer moved to comment when the president of the republic alleges that the Lebanese people are immature, or when the Prime Minister says boldly, "I am in my position because of a regional will, and nobody can make me leave."

The Lebanese media have been showing a readiness to cooperate with any intelligence power in control of the regime's distorted decision-making process.

Ideally, immunity granted to the media should enable it to deliver the truth. Immunity ought not to be used in any way to turn the media into a means of combat or taking advantage of its free movement to make it untouchable.

In general, the performance of the Lebanese media has become as bad as that of the government, though we have wished it would be better. We suggest, if media personnel are agreeable, that a radical professional performance self re-evaluation be performed and a professional code of honor be produced practice and practiced.

The Lebanese media shall remain a means of intelligence promotional for a population of ghosts, lead by ghosts, as long as it does not free itself from the sources it refers to as knowledgeable, close, reliable, informed and influential