The real challenge is finding time to "think" when covering news. Most can get to an event and report the who, what, when, etc. It's the "why" -- the context of an event, meaning, opposing ideas, narrative angle, editorial points -- that affords perspective and is the goal. The more time you can think, the better you parse hype from relevance. For example, Israeli-Palestinian peace is a largely ignored issue in the United States, but it is central to almost every political discussion here. Some say the influence of American Jews stifles balance in coverage, but it seems to me the truth stems from nonambitious media catering to a largely uninterested audience. After all, the Middle East is all the way over there and it means nothing here, until 9/11. Of course, that assumes you see terrorism as a continuum of cause and effect from many issues or as a direct result of the U.S. defense of Israel versus the Arab/Muslim world. (Personally, I think the space between the two ideas is most fertile for consideration.)
10 p.m. Cairo/ 3 p.m. NYC:
It's nice to be able to sit down now and really let all the events of the day marinate. This was my first time in Egypt. I've been to the region many times, but each place forms a unique part of a cultural and religious mosaic. That said, Egypt truly stands out. Though its dominance of Arabia has been challenged in recent years, it is still unique in its culture and politics ... and has those crazy amazing pyramids! Trips like this are so compressed that I am mostly working. There is such pressure "to get it right" and in this case, that means gauging local interest and impact, not getting caught in swoon. The key to getting a quick feel is to walk through a place and talk it without a camera (the best time is spent off-camera).
And there are always "surprises" like a Zawahiri tape that just came out ... seems that Obama not the only one seizing the moment to put out a message.
People pour into Cairo at night ... crossing the Nile. I'm going to try to fall asleep to the sound of disco blaring … oh yes, my friends, it is back.
8 a.m. Cairo/ 1 a.m. NYC:
First up, read papers, talk to bosses, tweak scripts, and then ... a talk with Janet Greer. Twelve years ago her daughter's father took little Dowsha to Egypt to visit family members and never came back. In an effort to get her daughter back, Greer spent all her money and made multiple trips to Egypt, including a visit to the apartment where she believed Dowsha/Sarah lived. An Egyptian court even agreed that Greer should have custody of the child. But still, she never saw her daughter. I am hoping to change that … working the phones big time.
2-4 p.m. Cairo/ 7-9 a.m. NYC: "GOOD MORNING AMERICA" SHOWTIME! So weird doing the show in the afternoon! Very used to the early morning hours. It's a nice change. Big, BIG moment for "GMA" was getting word live that Janet Greer saw her daughter for the first time in 12 years!
Always odd to take a break from covering something like Middle East peace to make a call about "regular life." Like some climbing roses I am trying to get on the cheap from a little place on the north shore of Long Island. "Hey, I'll take three plants but I want a break because they are flowering already. No, I can't come now ... I am in Cairo." A new facet to the experience is that my 6 year-old, Bella, now calls me on the road. The best questions: simple, like "why" or "who says."