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Mainstream media’s role essential amidst fake news: US envoy

Lawrence Silverman

KUWAIT: US Ambassador Lawrence Silverman hosted a reception to welcome the US Embassy’s new Press Attaché to Kuwait Stewart Beitz. “For me, it’s also one last chance to see some of the friends and partners that I’ve had the privilege to get to know over the last three years,” said Silverman, whose tenure is ending. “The US Embassy is very fortunate to enjoy a close relationship with you, the media professionals who educate and inform the Kuwaiti public on the issues that matter most to them,” he added.

Silverman thanked local media partners for the last three years of media coverage, interviews and pull-asides. “I hope that your ratings and readership did not suffer too much whenever you covered one of our events,” he quipped.

He said the role of the mainstream media cannot be compared to social media nowadays. “I know that the role of mainstream media did not diminish even a bit with the advent of social media – in fact, your role is more essential for verification. You are the ultimate source of truthfulness amidst fake news and misrepresentations and misinformation. You can interview both sides and present them to people in a more balanced and unbiased way,” the envoy said. “Thanks to you, we have helped the Kuwaiti public better understand not only US government policies, but also American society and values,” he pointed out.

Silverman added that both the American and Kuwaiti constitutions enshrine freedom of the press and expression. Kuwaitis should be proud of their free and active press, vibrant civil society and the most democratic parliament in the region. “Kuwait’s diwaniya culture of frank and open discussion is truly unique, and you see its positive effects on the media environment. While it saddens me to leave, I will be departing with very fond memories of Kuwait and its people. Most of all, I am very proud of the things we achieved during my tenure,” he said.

The ambassador pointed out that Kuwait and the US have strengthened their relationship in areas including defense cooperation, trade, investment, education and consular affairs. “We also signed agreements and implemented programs that will deliver practical benefits to the people of Kuwait, such as improving the teaching of English, strengthening counter-terrorism capabilities and making international travel safer,” he said.

“With our Kuwaiti partners, we worked on initiatives to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. The recent passage by the National Assembly of a new intellectual property rights law should, if implemented properly, help incentivize and protect Kuwaiti artists and innovators who are working to diversify the economy and attract greater investment,” Silverman said. He noted that the embassy’s Public Affairs Section is expanding people-to-people exchanges that are the foundation of the US-Kuwait relationship.

Stewart Beitz

He also introduced the new press attaché Beitz, who has spent the past two years studying Arabic. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy and also worked for several years at General Electric as an engineer. Beitz also served at the US embassies in Honduras and Mexico and while serving in Honduras, Beitz was recalled to active duty naval service and was part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Djibouti and Uganda.
“After that, he served in the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement and the Office of International Information Programs,” Silverman said. Beitz thanked Silverman for the great words and warm welcome, saying he is looking forward to working with the local press during his stint as press attache.

By Ben Garcia

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