The fast-spreading protests in the Middle East quickly became a leading news story on Friday.
Demonstrations, some of them violent, have popped up in over a dozen countries around the region after clips of a supposed anti-Muslim film surfaced online. Just about everything to do with the provenance of the film has been called into question. The protests followed attacks that killed the American ambassador to Libya. Together, they thrust the rest of the world back onto television screens.
The protests did not attain the wall-to-wall heights reached by the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011, but every network returned to them repeatedly throughout the day.
CNN, which has been promoting its worldwide coverage in recent months, turned to its relative army of international correspondents in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. Speaking from a balcony in Cairo, Ben Wedeman said that people he talked to wanted Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man behind the film, prosecuted. In Benghazi, Arwa Damon said Libyan officials were warning they could not control the protests.
"It really makes your hair stand on end to be inside some of these buildings," she said. "...The stench [of bodies] still remains."
Viewers could also tune into Al Jazeera, which, predictably, had the most comprehensive coverage of the protests. At one point, the network mixed sound of White House spokesman Jay Carney with sound of scattered gunshots and shouting in Tunis, the Tunisian capital.
Al Jazeera's anchors and correspondents also continually said that the protests were about more than just a film. After watching Carney dismiss the notion that American policy was to blame for the demonstrations, Tony Harris, a former CNN anchor now based in Doha for Al Jazeera, was scornful.
"I haven't been in the region long, but I would suggest to Jay Carney that he rethink that answer," Harris said. His guest, the Brookings Insitution's Shadi Hamid, agreed. "People are angry in part of American policy," he said. "...You can't undo five decades."
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