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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Gives Major Props to Al Jazeera for Their News Coverage

March 4, 2011

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Hillary Clinton: Al Jazeera is Real News, posted with vodpod

Secretary Clinton made her comments about Al Jazeera during her Senate testimony the other day. She also rightly disses the American news media, which has become beyond pathetic. The MSM’s coverage of almost everything is sub-par but when it comes to foreign policy, they appear to aim to keep the electorate in a permanent state of stupid.

Al Jazeera’s coverage of the uprisings in the Arab world has been amazing and Clinton was right to point that out in a very public way- maybe it will cause some much-needed introspection on the part of the American corporate media which seems more interested in the bottom line than in providing actual news coverage.

Of course, given how Islamaphobic we’ve become as a nation (see this incredible video and article), Secretary Clinton’s criticism of the American media isn’t sitting well with some people. Oh well, truth hurts. If you want an example of the worst in American “journalism” on the Arab uprisings, just tune into Fox News, whose byline should be changed to “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid of Them There Terrorist Muslims!” Honestly, Fox News is a joke- their coverage was one long Frank Gaffney, Glenn Beck, Pamela Geller-inspired conspiracy theory about the takeover of the Islamic Caliphate. There’s not enough haldol in the world to lessen these folk’s paranoia.

From HuffPo:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that Al Jazeera is gaining more prominence in the U.S. because it offers “real news” — something she said American media were falling far short of doing.

Clinton was speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and she said the U.S. is losing the “information war” in the world. One of the reasons she cited for this was the quality of channels like Al Jazeera. The channel, she said, was “really effective” and was “changing peoples’ minds and attitudes.” U.S. news, she added, was not keeping up.

“Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news,” Clinton said. “You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”

During the height of the crisis in Egypt, The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim wrote about Al Jazeera English’s near-total invisibility on U.S. television.

Media critics like Jeff Jarvis have also contrasted Al Jazeera with American news networks. “Vital, world-changing news is occurring in the Middle East and no one-not the xenophobic or celebrity-obsessed or cut-to-the-bone American media-can bring the perspective, insight, and on-the-scene reporting Al Jazeera English can,” Jarvis wrote in January.

To her credit, Secretary Clinton seems to be the only official in this administration to reach out to Arab media, including AJ. I’m glad she does it but I wish she’d do even more of it.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2011 10:39 am

    Along with highlighting Al Jazeera’s success and quality, the SOS pointed out that while the US is cutting back, China has begun new TV networks in multiple languages and Russia has created an English language network.

    It is interesting that China is preparing for the future with huge investments in infrastructure, alternative energy, trains, and media, … The Republicans, instead, while claiming they want the US to dominate the world, are focused on cutting taxes and costs for companies and the wealthy and then slashing any spending/programs that doesn’t benefit very specific groups they favor. What will the world look like in 20-30 years?

  2. Thain permalink
    March 4, 2011 10:41 am

    Good for her, it’s the truth. Our media was caught totally off guard by this. It became clear that most journalists and anchors weren’t up to the task of providing running commentary about what was going on because they probably don’t know a whole lot about the region. The GOP also looked silly during the whole thing- when they did mention the uprisings all they could say was “well, we can’t let the Muslim Brotherhood take over!” as though that was all that was going on. Fox’s news coverage was laughable. Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow had a good time lampooning it. Sadly, millions of people get their propaganda from Fox, which helps explain why most people probably don’t even know where Tunisia is.

  3. stacyx permalink*
    March 4, 2011 11:12 am

    OT: This is why there will never be a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is from an event in NY – a debate between Anthony Weiner and Brian Baird.

    Last night at the New School in New York, we had a great debate between two Democratic Party antagonists on the Israel/Palestine issue: Brian Baird, the former Washington state congressman, and Brooklyn congressman Anthony Weiner. The conversation was deftly moderated by Roger Cohen of the New York Times, who was not afraid to call Weiner out when the congressman said there are no Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, or when he said that all the settlements are in Israel.

    When Cohen pressed Weiner on where Israel’s eastern border is, he said something about the Jordan River. I have the tape, I have to dig that out. At this point a man in the audience shouted, Are you in Israel now? It was a New York crowd. A heckler from the other side attacked Brian Baird over his statement that the Israelis had bombed Al Quds hospital with white phosphorus. The heckler said that there were militants hiding themselves at the hospital. Baird (a contributor to our book on the Goldstone Report) shook his head in consternation. He said it was no credit to the heckler or the country he was supporting that he was actually defending the bombing of a hospital.

    A friend who was in attendance writes:

    To my surprise, I learned something from tonight’s debate. I thought about Anthony Weiner’s insistence that the borders of Israel extend from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River — a shocking statement to me even though I know this is the viewpoint of the settler movement in Israel. I didn’t realize that it was the common currency of a “proud Zionist” as Weiner described himself. So, if Weiner and his ideological pals believe that all the land taken in the 1967 war is “Israel”, no wonder negotiations can go nowhere even with the ever pliable Palestinian Authority. Weiner and his pals believe negotiations are “giving” land to the Palestinians — an offer of any territory at all is a generous offer.

    This helps explain why despite all the Palestinian concessions described in the palestine papers, the US and Israel still vetoed it- the quiet reality behind the scenes, thanks to the Israel Lobby and Israel’s benefactors in Congress, is that a) Jerusalem will never be divided and b) Israel will not even allow 1967 borders with land swaps. Congress does not support long-standing US policy (which has always understood that there would have to be some recognition of 1967 borders and E. Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital)- that’s the big secret Israel, Congress and the media don’t want us to know because it’s so f*cking unreasonable. Essentially, Weiner and his colleagues in Congress have the same position as the most extreme settler elements in Israel (despite [Weiner etc] being so-called “liberals” on other issues not relating to Israel). Bibi knows this- he knows he has Congress in his pocket. He has no reason to concede anything to Obama/Clinton or the Palestinians so long as he knows Congress supports him and not the POTUS. It’s a foregone conclusion that Israel will never allow the Palestinians to have one inch of E. Jerusalem. Hell, they even want the Jordan Valley. Not only does it fly in the face of international law, it’s an ultra-extreme position.

    Clearly, the only thing the Palestinians can hope to get is a series of bantustans with limited sovereignty- the Arab world will never accept this, never mind that it is totally unjust. This helps explain why the Palestinians want the international community to play a larger role and why they are taking so many risks at the UN and trying to get nations to recognize a Palestinian state one by one. They know the US and Israel have fixed this game.

    The peace process is a ruse so long as the Israeli govt holds sway over Congress and so long as our media covers up just how extreme our politicians are- they are essentially to the right of likud. The question is, why are Obama and Hillary playing along with this game or did they underestimate Bibi?

    I will say props to Roger Cohen for being a moderator in the debate. It does make me worried about his job security though.

    • Steve permalink
      March 4, 2011 12:15 pm

      Wow, I wish I had known about that event before hand I definitely would have gone. I like Weiner on social issues but on Israel he is as far right as they come. Of course, so is everybody in Congress.

      While I had hoped Obama and Clinton would be able to talk some sense into Israel and get both sides to move towards a fair resolution of the conflict, it’s clear that it’s not going to happen because of political realities in THIS country. We like to blame the Israelis and Palestinians for problems with peace talks but the fact is our own Congress gives the administration no support, no wiggle room and few options.

      Any deal that excludes all of E. Jerusalem and doesn’t provide some recognition of 1967 borders with swaps for some settlements (ie. rewarding Israel for breaking the law), is a non-starter. The irony is that such a one-sided plan would only embolden Hamas and outrage the Arab world, which in turn undermines US and Israel’s security – what the hell is so hard to understand about that.

      Until the Jewish community stands up and says “enough” with this Israel Right or Wrong mentality, nothing will change and Presidents will feel like they can’t ask Israel to make tough choices for fear of looking anti-Israel or worse, anti-semitic which is preposterous of course. But sadly, the Jewish community is NOT stepping up to the plate at all. The Occupation is inconsistent with human rights and democracy- key Jewish values. How are we going to continue to justify this. I personally think it’s up to the next generation because my generation is hopeless.

      • Thain permalink
        March 4, 2011 12:38 pm

        I read over on Haaretz today that Bibi wants to come to the US soon to address both Houses of Congress- that guy has gigantic balls, doesn’t he? Why on earth would the Obama admin. allow that when it’s no secret that Bibi is working behind the scenes with the GOP to undermine this admin. and hoping that the GOP not only takes over the Senate in 2012 but also the WH. So far the admin. hasn’t said whether they will ok this. I’m sure Weiner and Schumer and other Democrats will side with their Prime Minister on this. It’s truly incredible. If Americans only knew!

  4. Sahir permalink
    March 4, 2011 11:41 am

    Thank you for posting this and I am grateful to Secretary Clinton for saying these things.

    It is very frustrating as an Arab American that the only view that many Americans have is that our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and Africa are all terrorists. I have long got much of my news from AJ Arabic in order to stay current with what is going on in the region and also to keep up my Arabic skills ;). That so many Americans reject Al Jazeera outright simply because it is Arab is disturbing. They say it is biased and at times its commentary is but so is American media commentary and opinion. Americans could learn a lot from seeing things from the perspective of others in the world. I think our politicians and some other people are worried that if Americans start to see us as real human beings just like them then they might start to empathize with us. It seems to suit a political purpose to have the electorate see us all as anti-American anti-Israel monsters because then they don’t have to question bad policies or their own biases.

    • Steve permalink
      March 4, 2011 12:16 pm

      I agree with everything you said Sahir. Thanks for your input.

  5. Thain permalink
    March 4, 2011 1:33 pm

    You mentioned Fox News- what do you expect from people who watch this sh*T?

    • PCFS permalink
      March 5, 2011 8:46 am

      Fox News is insane for even having Beck have a time slot. The Secretary spoke the truth and they (Fox New) just can’t handle it.

      • March 5, 2011 9:43 am

        Yeah, the fact that Beck is lashing out at Clinton for saying what she did about AJ is probably a good thing. I’d be a bit worried if he actually agreed with something rational.

        Of course, Beck is busy spreading the hate and making tin foil hats. I can’t help but wonder what kind of person watches Glenn Beck and agrees with him.

  6. stacyx permalink*
    March 4, 2011 1:39 pm

    This is the video I alluded to in my post. While these folks certainly have a right to their hateful views and also a right to express them, it’s interesting that the media largely doesn’t cover this. Imagine if people were doing this in front of a church with a predominately Black membership or in front of a Synogogue- then the media would be going NUTS!

    Where’s the ADL? Oh, that’s right, the ADL probably wouldn’t speak out against this because of the Israeli flag on the stage in between all the American flags.

  7. Vcal permalink
    March 4, 2011 1:41 pm

    Way to go Hillary! you’re the only one who has the gutts to tell the true on this administartion and on this country! Well said!

  8. Thain permalink
    March 4, 2011 2:04 pm

    Look at the weaponry the Settlers in the Occupied Territories are allowed to have:

    A lot of these idiots are funded by US “philanthropists” like Irving Moskowitz and Jack Abramoff who not only buy up properties on Palestinian territory for Jewish only settlements but buy them weapons.

  9. Thain permalink
    March 4, 2011 2:06 pm

    Imagine if this situation were reversed:

  10. March 4, 2011 3:06 pm

    Thain- that second photo is upsetting. I saw a video several years ago of a bunch of settlers who surrounded an older Palestinian woman- she looked about 75- she had bags in her hand and was just walking down the street when they moved to block her passage. They were about 3 inches from her face screaming obscenities at her and she was crying and asking them to please stop, that she just wanted to walk through. Other people in the background were just looking, doing nothing. It made me really angry and changed how I felt about the whole conflict. The woman just seemed so humiliated and powerless and the men screaming at her were just filled with hate. It’s a side of the conflict that our media censors from us because at the end of the day, there is tremendous hatred and violence not just from the Palestinians, but from Israeli Jews. We are shielded from Israeli racism out of fear that Americans might start to question our policies and the Mideast peace process, not to mention the very ingrained beliefs and viewpoints that those policies are based upon.

    OT: This is a commentary about Sarah Palin’s mangling of the Constitution despite her use of it as a political weapon. And it goes to something that has always bothered me about Palin- her arrogance and her total lack of interest in learning about things that she doesn’t know, but which we expect High School civics students to understand. The sheer arrogance of believing one is qualified to be VP or POTUS without any interest in learning about the economy, foreign policy, constitutional law (on a very basic level), history etc. All she does is spew factually incoherent talking points. If she were a Democrat I’d feel the same way.

  11. March 20, 2013 8:45 pm

    Always nice to give props.

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