Dusting Off Mubarak's Old Tricks

Eric Trager reports from Cairo on the actions of Egypt's military:

To avoid direct confrontation with protesters, the military has taken a page from Mubarak's playbook and used the state-run media, which it now controls, to appeal to the broader Egyptian public. On Saturday morning, two state-run channels set up cameras along the Nile Corniche, where soldiers arranged individuals to complain about the country's troubles and request the government's intervention. On Channel 2, a man discussed the economic consequences of plummeting tourism, while another asked for the return of the police. On Channel 3, a blind man was filmed asking for services, saying that he needed a job and a home. Just off camera, four large tanks closed the road to traffic, and soldiers brandishing AK-47s lined the street next to the supposedly defunct Ministry of Information. There would be no interference with this carefully crafted media campaign and, after asking the cameramen too many questions, a soldier led me away.