“Journalism could be described as turning one’s enemies into money” – (Craig Brown)
In Lebanon, the practice of “gifting” journalists remains widespread, including at festivals such as Eid or Christmas, according to a report from the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). The report quoted a manager at Voice of Lebanon radio: “Certain politicians have a budget for bribes. Depending on your rank and the media you work, it could be a car or a laptop” (MM).
Without admitting it publicly, many Lebanese journalists secured a monthly payroll from local politicians, regional governmental entities and foreign embassies in return for implementing certain political agendas, varnishing the media image of a ruler or simply bashing and defaming others.
Maria Baalouf* (Saudi Arabia). Initially an anchor on local TV channels, she gained popularity amidst the period that followed the assassination of Rafiq Hariri in 2005. Her focus is solemnly on bashing the image of Hezbollah and Hasan Nasrallah in the Lebanese and Arab media and praises the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its interests. She is believed to have had a close relationship with Wissam Al-Hasan, general of the ISF and head of its information branch. Upon his assassination in 2012, Baalouf* escalated her media attacks on Hezbollah accusing the party of god to be behind the operation with the help of Iran and Syria.
Salem Zahranovski* (Syria): A member of the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) he became a fervent supporter of what was called the March 8 movement, defending the interest of Syria and Amal party in Lebanon. He’s a Sunni attacking the Sunni majority under Hariri and Saudi Arabia.
Nadim Kattoush* (Saudi Arabia): Similar to Zahranovski* but of different confession, he’s a Shia defending the interests of Saudi Arabia and the Future Movement in Lebanon. His tweets and online publications resume the cheap quality of his arguments to portray himself as the guardian of the Saudi kingdom, along with fulfilling his initial task of accusing Hezbollah, Iran and Syria on any regional matter. During the abduction period of PM Saad Hariri in Riyadh, he took side with the Saudi Crown Prince and criticized Hariri, his employer at Future TV; but once the late the PM released, Kattoush* was immediately fired from his position where he joined Al-Arabiya TV, a Saudi state-owned network. Everyone has a price but it differs how cheap one can be to justify that cost.
Joseph Bou Fidelio* (Syria): He’s proud of his Syrian employers and said it clearly in many media appearances; he has the task to defend Syrian interests and Bashar Al-Assad regime in Lebanon and the region. He is famous for his sarcasm and insults as well as brawls with political opponents on live TV. He declared that his visits to Damascus are on monthly basis in order to receive instructions and payment.
Paulette Yacoubianeli* (Saudi Arabia): She was the media figure of March 14 movement since 2005, playing a major role on Future TV where she hosted politicians and journalists opposing the Syria/Iran/Hezbollah group. She remained a fervent supporter of Saad Hariri even after her elections as new Member of Parliament under the “Seven” movement; which was confirmed after the Saudi authorities asked her to interview the incumbent prime minister during his abduction and house arrest in Riyadh in 2017.
Jerry Maher (Saudi Arabia)
Lebanese journalist and political analyst “Daniel” became famous after revealing information that led to the arrest of some Hezbollah supporters in the US and Europe. He publicly supports Saudi Arabia who finances his media outlet, and in return he praises the kingdom, MBS and his respective interests. Fearing for his life, he settled down in Europe.
Pierre Abi Sarb* (Iran): Journalist at Al-Akhbar newspaper, he has the sole task to attack Israel and zionists in media while maintaining the losing hope of a free Palestine and the return of Palestinians to their land. He is an asset for being a Christian who communicates in Arabic, English and French; ideal for promoting or debating with foreign media living a wealthy life but promoting himself as the defender of the deprived. One journalist stated that he’s among the ones who receive a monthly “aid” via a diplomatic suitcase directly from Teheran.
Nawfal Daoubaladiyeh* (Saudi Arabia): His role was more prominent in the years following the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, a second-class element of the March 14 group who unleashed all his hate and insults towards the Syrian regime and Hezbollah. His media presence diminished with time due to his lack of influence, unpopularity and harsh character.
Faisal Abdel Sater (Syria): A fervent defender of Al-Assad regime and Hezbollah, he is often a guest on Lebanese media such as NBN, OTV, Manar and regional outlets like Al-Jazeera. His role revolves around defending Iran from any Saudi accusations, but it decreased after his heart operation that kept away from the political scene.
And the list is long to include editors, presenters, reporters and anchors who accept seasonal gifts such as watches, laptops, mobiles phones to more serious gifts such as permits, cars, and other shadowy services.
* Real names were altered to prevent any potential persecutions. But you all know them well.