Al Jazeera to "On The Media": We are not a target of H.R. 2278.

Posted: 15 Feb 2010

"A couple of months ago, the House passed Resolution 2278 [see previous post], aimed at Arab satellite TV networks like Al Jazeera... ." NPR's "On The Media," 12 February 2010, with audio. "You repeatedly mention Al Jazeera as an intended target [of H.R. 2278], yet there is absolutely no reference to Al Jazeera in the resolution, as you can see from the legislative digest summary below, or in Congressman Bilirakis' remark on the House floor. As you can also see, not only is the resolution extremely vague in defining which broadcasters are offenders -- it has absolutely no teeth. It may have antagonized many people in the Middle East, but I'm confident that none of us at Al Jazeera feel it in any way affects us or our reporting." Tom Ackerman, Al Jazeera English Washington Broadcast Center, commenting to ibid. Thanks to Joe Durso for the news tip.
     During her visit to Qatar, Secretary Clinton "is scheduled to meet with the board of directors of the controversial Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television and answer questions from Arabs and Muslims in 'town-hall style' events broadcast on television." AFP, 14 February 2010. See also, 15 February 2010. "Townterview" transcript: State Department, 15 February 2010. It was during this Al Jazeera town meeting that Secretary Clinton said "Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship," a quote widely cited by global news media.
     "The [Al Jazeera town meeting] audience, which included several young women in Islamic head-dress, asked [Secretary Clinton] awkward questions about the the stalemated Middle East peace process, humanitarian conditions in Gaza and a perceived US bias against Muslims. 'It is President (Barack) Obama's vision that we will overcome stereotypes,' she responded, adding that Washington recognised the 'broad diversity of the Islamic world.' ... But the students, half of them Qataris and the rest of other nationalities, did not appear convinced by Clinton's arguments." AFP, 15 February 2010.
     "'Two things started opening outlets for us to disseminate news that the [Egyptian] government doesn't want anyone to know about,' [journalist Hossam] El-Hamalawy told IPS. 'One was the launching of Al-Jazeera and the other was the rise of the Internet, starting from about 2000.' Al-Jazeera, a Qatar-based pan-Arab satellite news channel launched in 1996, rose to prominence after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and now claims over 50 million viewers. Western and Arab governments have accused the network of sensationalism, but media analysts say it was the first television station to provide independent and often critical analysis of Arab regimes. 'With Al-Jazeera, we started seeing news that was not necessarily handed to us by the state media," says El-Hamalawy. 'Love it or hate it, the channel played a revolutionary role in the Arab world. For the first time we started seeing dissidents on TV. Before that, if a dissident or (political activist) showed up on TV, you knew he was a phony.'" Cam McGrath, Inter Press Service, 14 February 2010.

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