US sitcoms turning Saudis against terror better than its official propaganda: Wikileaks

Riyadh, Dec 8 (ANI): Secret cables released by the whistleblower website 'Wikileaks' have revealed that Saudi youths, who watch the US TV shows like 'Desperate Housewives and Late Show With David Letterman', are being persuaded by these programmes to reject violent jihad far better than millions of dollars of US government propaganda.

The Guardian quoted informants as telling the American embassy in Jeddah that sitcoms like Friends on Saudi Arabia's MBC 4 channel are acting as "war of ideas" against extremist elements."

According to a secret cable titled "David Letterman: Agent of Influence", these programmes have been proving more effective messages than Washington's main propaganda tool, the US-funded al-Hurra TV news channel, the paper said.

Earlier Al-Hurra had broadcasted lengthy interviews with US politicians, including George Bush, but has run into problems with locally hired journalists, it added.

Diplomats believed that the actors like Eva Longoria, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer on commercial TV helped to create a far greater impact than al-Hurra, which according to one report, has cost US taxpayers up to 500 million dollars.

"It's still all about the war of ideas here, and the American programming on MBC and Rotana (a channel part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation) is winning over ordinary Saudis in a way that al-Hurra and other US propaganda never could," the paper quoted two Saudi media executives as telling a US official in a meeting at a Jeddah in May 2009.

"Saudis are now very interested in the outside world and everybody wants to study in the US if they can. They are fascinated by US culture in a way they never were before," they added. (ANI)

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