This week, the Washington Post’s Sunday Outlook section takes time off from running the self-absorbed ruminations of hard-done-by feminists and turns the floor over what it apparently considers a hard-done-by media outlet, al-Jazeera. The resulting column, by Joanne Levine, the network’s executive producer of programming for the Americas, claims that al-Jazeera is “as American as apple pie.”
Extreme Mortman has little difficulty demolishing this valentine to al-Jazeera:
Levine writes, “most people in this country have never watched al-Jazeera.” I have. Before I joined New Media Strategies, it used to be part of my job, when I worked for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. government agency that runs America’s international broadcasting efforts.
What did I see? Constant victim-based images that peddled on what America was doing to Iraqis and what Israel was doing to Palestinians. I saw program after program, promo after promo, feeding into the notion that Arabs are being routinely victimized by the rest of the world, catering to an overwhelmingly anti-American audience.
Sometimes the approach is quite subtle — hidden behind the cloak of “showing both sides.”
For instance, at the same time in early 2005 that the Senate was holding confirmation hearings for Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, al-Jazeera was airing a documentary re-enactment of Abu Gharib.
And how did al-Jazeera mark the most recent anniversary of 9/11? The network showed the Michael Moore film “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
Levine concludes that America needs an outlet like al-Jazeera in order to receive “a wider panorama of views.” I would argue that, in this regard, al-Jazeera is largely surplus to requirements — our own MSM provides all but perhaps the most extreme edge of the same parorama. It’s the Arab world that needs a wider panorama. In time, al-Jazeera may begin to provide it, but that time has not arrived.