WikiLeaks Cables: Desperate Housewives, George Clooney Eased Mideast Relations

Desperate Housewives - 2010

Diplomats reveal which shows and stars were more effective at preventing jihad than an American-funded station, Al-Hurra, which likely cost tax payers $500 million.

In an attempt to convince youth not to commit jihad, America funds TV station Al-Hurra in Saudi Arabia at a cost of about $500 million to taxpayers.

But according to newly released WikiLeaks cables, the airing of Desperate Housewives, the Late Show With David Letterman and George Clooney’s Michael Clayton on local station MBC 4 have done more to ease relations.

Over a Starbucks coffee in the kingdom, two Saudi media executives told U.S. diplomats that "the American programming on MBC and Rotana [a channel part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which broadcasts Fox News] is winning over ordinary Saudis in a way that al-Hurra and other US propaganda never could.”

The cables said themes in American movies appealed to the audience: heroic honesty when faced with corruption (George Clooney in drama Michael Clayton), supportive relationship behavior (a film that wasn't named featuring an American husband who faced abuse from his drunk wife that aired during the Eid holiday), and respect for the law over self-interest (Robin Williams and Al Pacino in Insomina).

"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," read the cable, which was originally sent in May 2009.