In today's tour of state-sponsored propaganda: Egyptian TV goes xenophobic, multinational corporations get in bed with North Korea and Cuba shares its reading list. We begin in Egypt.
Egypt's Scary PSAs
Egypt's state TV has always been pretty xenophobic but a new series of PSAs instructing citizens not to speak with foreigners raises the bar. For weeks, state TV has been airing 40-second spots which show a shady-looking non-Egyptian journalist walking into a restaurant and soliciting questions from innocent bystanders. As his shifty eyes dart from one side of the room to another, scary music suggests the man is actually a spy. The Guardian's Patrick Galey describes what happens next:
Approaching three Egyptians for a chat, he listens intently as they reel off apparently secret snippets of information – such as the revelation that Egypt has transportation problems and prices are too high. He sits smiling sweetly as he texts the information back to base from beneath the table. In a manner reminiscent of old second world war posters, the viewer is informed: "Every word comes with a price. A word can save a nation."
Fortunately, it appears the advertisements have raised the appropriate level of disgust and State TV removed them this week. "The announcements were eventually removed by officials who worried that the point of the videos was being missed. It wasn't," writes Galey. "The adverts are very clearly the continuation of a state TV narrative that existed before last year's revolution. They were not designed to raise public awareness of the various espionage networks that no doubt do operate out of Cairo – they were a warning against foreigners."
North Korea Brags About Gifts from Foreign Corporations
Typically, when foreign corporations lavish gifts on state leaders, it's kept secret as to avoid the appearance of bribery. But in North Korea, why hide such things? Corporations are merely expressing their no-strings-attached support of the leader! That seems to be the mindset, at least, in Pyongyang where state-run news agency KCNA is proud to announce new favors handed to Kim Jong Un: