Washington Team, 2022 winner
On the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, Congress was preparing to certify the 2020 presidential election results. At the same time, protesters gathered near the White House to hear then-President Trump speak at a rally. As the day started, MBN’s White House Correspondent Hisham Bourar, Correspondent Kalyl Bentwila, Congressional Correspondent Abdelrahman Elbardisi, State Department Correspondent Michel Ghandour, and Pentagon Correspondent Wafaa Jibai checked in with their sources and got into position to cover the rally and the election certification. Producers were planning for live coverage of the certification, followed by detailed analysis during Alhurra’s primetime newscasts. Videographers Jim Norris and Luis Munoz were preparing for their assignments out in the field that day.
Around noon, Alhurra and Alhurra.com were taking President Trump’s speech live. Bentwila was reporting from amongst the crowd at the address with Norris. However, the tone and fervor of the crowd changed when the President told them, “We will never give up. We will never concede.” He also called on then-Vice President Pence to reject the results. Bentwila called the assignment desk to alert them that this speech differed from the dozens of other political remarks he had covered. He warned them that this could grow into something more.
Even before President Trump stopped speaking, protesters were making their way to the U.S. Capitol and starting to break down the barriers that the police had set up. When they saw the crowd moving, Bentwila and Norris followed them, always filming along the way. MBN immediately started live breaking news coverage that continued until the following day in the MENA region.
MBN’s Washington correspondents were already in place to start covering events as they unfolded. MBN’s team of journalists ensured that MBN was uniquely able to cover the unprecedented events better than any other Arabic-language network.
Elbardisi and Munoz were positioned on North Capitol Street as crowds approached. When rioters passed by, they screamed profanities while Elbardisi was live on air, yelling that he was part of the fake media and threatening to physically attack him. The sight of the correspondent and TV camera provoked the crowd and elicited screaming from the rioters that they were pro-Biden and spitting on the two men for simply reporting on events. Elbardisi and Munoz began hiding the camera between live shots—but they did not leave their position.
Bentwila and Norris continued with the crowd until they reached the Capitol and reported from among the rioters, the same people that Elbardisi and Munoz had encountered earlier, who were now doing everything they could to break into the Capitol. The determined and courageous MBN team stood their ground, despite the countless physical attacks on the media. They attempted to move closer to other crews, thinking there would be safety in numbers, but that only provoked further reaction. This brave team risked physical and verbal abuse, but no matter what the circumstances, they never stopped reporting to viewers. They continued reporting from the Capitol until 1 a.m.
During this time, Bourar, Jibai, and Ghandour gathered reactions from President-elect Biden, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House. With their combined dozens of years of covering D.C., they instinctively understood that this was unlike anything they had experienced before, as rioters violently entered the Capitol. Bourar, Jibai, and Ghandour’s reporting provided context and analysis to allow audiences to better understand the unprecedented nature of these events.
Bourar, Jibai, and Ghandour reported on the strong condemnation of the deadly acts of the rioters by officials and constitutional experts. They also shared their expertise on American politics and the Constitution, as they explained to audiences about the ratification process.
All seven of MBN’s nominees played an essential role in the media organization’s coverage of the day. They each understood the seriousness of the moment and the importance of their role. Each person demonstrated their dedication to ensuring that Arab audiences understood the events, as they stayed on the air for more than 12 hours straight to provide comprehensive, accurate coverage and included context. The importance of their coverage cannot be overstated.