NBC's Richard Engel: Star Out of Cairo

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 11 2011 4:42 PM

NBC's Richard Engel: Star Out of Cairo

People are glued to their TVs this afternoon as Egypt reactsto the news that President Hosni Mubarak will step down after nearly 30 yearsin power, following 18 days of protestsin Cairo's Tahrir Square. In particular, many viewers are glued to NBC's chiefforeign correspondent, Richard Engel.

Engel distinguished himself with his reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan ,but the uprising in Egypt with its dramatic footage and soon-to-be iconicimages may be his star-making turn. Twitterers today are calling him a "badass"and a "rockstar":

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gmclark128  @ richardengelnbc  amillion thanks for your expert coverage of history in the making. You are yoursare to be saluted for your tenaciousness

sarahsmithC4 ? RT  @jobrabkin : Richard Engel wipes floor withrivals on the US cable nets

BabylonSista  In other news,I've developed a spontaneous crush on @ RichardEngelNBC . Brave,smart, cute. Thanks for being our witness.


Engel has a long history in Cairo. He spent four yearsliving in the city's slums after he graduated from college, an experience thatallows him to contextualize the situation with a fluency few other TV journalists can muster. And he's great at findingbits of on-the-ground color a photo hetweeted of protestors holding a sign that said "thank you Facebook" (or somethingclose ) went viral last week. At the same time, Frank Rich praised Engel for being one of the few journalists to resist the facile narrative that theEgyptian uprising was somehow powered by social networking sites.

In proper dashingforeign correspondent fashion, he's not afraid to get into the thick of theaction. Here's him fighting off tear gas:

 

and in the mix with angry protesters:

But it's Engel's fluency in Arabic that has really set himapart. While his colleagues dig forEnglish speakers in the crowd, Engel is able to translate on the fly as hedoes in this clip from today's jubilant demonstrations:

Cynics might ask whether we shouldn't expect morejournalists to have Engel's foreign language chops he speaks several Arabicdialects, as well as Italian and Spanish but today, having him there to relaythe news from Tahrir Square seems pretty lucky for those of us back home.

Who else has been doing a great job of covering thesituation in Egypt?

Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor, and is also the vice president for content at Figment.

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