But Hillary Clinton calls it the only real news channel and Obama kissed the feet of its Qatari owner. And now the White House is making a big push to get al-Qaeda’s favorite media outlet into American homes everywhere.
“They are a really important media entity, and we have a really great relationship with them,” said Dana Shell Smith, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for international media engagement, who speaks Arabic and has frequently appeared on the channel. “This administration has empowered those of us who actually do the communicating to be in a close relationship with Al-Jazeera. They understand that the relationship can’t consist of complaining to each other about the differences we have.”
The differences also have shrunk as the big story in the Middle East has shifted from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the democratic movements sweeping the region. In the recent uprisings, U.S. interests tended to line up with Al-Jazeera’s, and President Barack Obama alluded to both the network’s influence and its pro-democracy bent in remarks caught on an open mic during a closed-door fundraiser last week. (Pro-democracy? What a joke, al-Jazeera is sharia compliant reporting.)
(And NBC parent, Comcast, is the likely cable network that will be bringing the Terrorist News Network into millions of American homes. Before there was a Muslim in the White House, every cable network in America refused to carry the station. If you don’t want Comcast to carry AJ, call Homer Gonzalez at 215-286-4821 (Comcast Marketing) or check their website: COMCAST )
All of this scares the living daylights out of Cliff Kincaid, director of the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Reporting and president of America’s Survival, who organized a “Stop Al Jazeera”conference at the National Press Club in Washington earlier this month.
Kincaid said he organized the event — headlined by Pamela Geller, the blogger best known for breathing life into the so-called ground zero mosque story — in part, to counter the campaign to get AJE wider distribution throughout the U.S. and in part, to put pressure on Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) to include an investigation into Al-Jazeera as part of his House Homeland Security Committee hearings on homegrown Muslim radicalization.
“To Comcast, and other cable and satellite providers, we say, do not expand Al-Jazeera throughout the U.S. Otherwise you will increase the chances of Americans being killed by those manipulated by ‘Jihad TV,’ the terrorist network, and you, Comcast, will have blood on your hands,” Kincaid told an audience of about 30 at the press club.
Kincaid pointed to a statement by Judea Pearl, father of the slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who called Al-Jazeera “the most powerful voice of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Al-Jazeera’s brand problems in the U.S. were set in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, when the Arabic channel owned by the Qatari government ran video tapes of Osama bin Laden before anyone else got them, and its critical coverage of the Iraq War made it deeply unpopular with the Pentagon.
By 2005, the Bush administration’s displeasure with Al-Jazeera was so intense that it was straining the U.S.’s relationship with Qatar, an important ally in the region, and Qatari officials were considering selling off the station, The New York Times reported.