Why Al Jazeera is better

Israel/Palestine
on 42 Comments

NPR’s News Blog reported:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went out of her way Thursday to single out the Al Jazeera TV news network for its work in covering recent uprisings throughout the Middle East.

“You’ve got a global—a set of global networks—that Al Jazeera has been the leader in, that are literally changing people’s minds and attitudes,” Clinton told members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Her remarks are a marked shift from the hostility expressed toward Al Jazeera by many conservatives, as well as some officials under former President Bush.

“Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news,” Clinton said Thursday.

“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,” Clinton said. “Which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”

This is progress, compared to George W’s hostility towards Al Jazeera’s alleged anti-Americanism. In a piece by NPR, Deborah Amos quotes Satnam Matharu, the network’s director of communications as saying that, “We had figures that indicated that we had 2,500 percent increase in traffic; 60 percent of that traffic was from the United States of America”…

So what is it about Al Jazeera (“The Peninsula”) that’s won grudging praise from Hillary who admits that American news organizations are unable to inform and who implies that officials watch the network far more than they would admit? To me, it’s not just about organizational and technical matters of global network or lack of commercials or format or, thankfully!, the absence of talking heads and assorted poseurs who essentially know nothing about, say, the Middle East region, much less their country’s actual behavior and how it’s perceived and experienced by the world outside. Nor about American professors of media and journalism talking the anodyne language of the press or media in society, their analysis, understanding, and perceptions limited by their cultural provincialism. Or Charlie Rose show-type chatter by American journalists conversing on the intrepidness of, yes, American journalists uncovering, oh such amazing stuff, heroically, even romantically reporting from faraway (embedded) battlefields, essentially saying little and assuming a default American innocence.

Is it the network’s smart studio layout and production sophistication, its multicultural awareness employing white, brown, black, Asian anchors and reporters? Its dignified, intelligent, poised, bilingual/multilingual, Arab female anchors and reporters, a curious view to those informed by oppression of Arab women? Its in-depth special reports and programs, such as “Empire” and “Witness”? The apparent, perceived crisp intelligence of spoken British-English of most of its anchors and journalists? The authentic experts, from America to the Middle East to China, consulted on every conceivable topic in every part of the world? It’s probably all those things, real and perceptual, but it’s something deeper.

The reality is that even free media reproduce their own cultures—their prejudices, biases, their Weltanschauung, even though they try hard, we assume, to report facts and be objective. American media reflects the American’s way of seeing and apprehending the world, and that’s essentially through an American nationalist lens. Add to this the fact of corporate ownership that has limits on deep, critical, reporting and analysis of America’s dominant financial and economic institutions, and you have quite uninteresting and uninformed reporting. Al Jazeera is also not free from cultural limitations, and if it seems, on its reporting of American policy in the Middle East or Palestine, biased, it’s reflecting the region’s world view (and I dare say much beyond)—and of course what seems like criticism to American officials is quite objective to the rest of the world.

Al Jazeera’s superiority is, to me, a matter of seeing, understanding, and perceiving at many levels that the vast majority of Americans typically cannot. Al Jazeera is emblematic of a more complex, contextualized understanding of life representing, for lack of better term, a third world or perhaps old world view. We Americans, unlike Europe or the rest of humanity, have not experienced revolutions or transformations of regime, violent class conflict, genocide, tyranny, religious wars, wars on our soil (with the exception of the Civil War), occupation, suffering and so on. We had our revolution and it’s all been linear progress and plenty since—or so that’s how we perceive our history. We believe our country’s actions are always benevolent in nature and purpose, even beseeching the world to emulate our success. We don’t easily relate to the idea of a nexus of power between economic and political elites, how those privileged determine much of what goes on in the vast majority of the world’s societies, economies, and polities. We tend to see the “free market” as a panacea for all ills, an abstract totemic thing we virtually worship, a replacement of moral, public, and civil society space. The right wing radio talk show wing nuts even believe that American media is hopelessly leftist and liberal and socialist and anti-American, for everything about us is right and just and good. We are a profoundly status quo nation, hardly comfortable with revolution and fundamental questions and critiques of socio-economic and political change yet proudly insistent that we were born of one, revolution that is.

Our media is like our movies, pitting good against evil, hero against anti-hero, usually narrated with a happy-ending, typically portraying, along with ubiquitous commercials, a fantasy America populated with affluent people with nice homes and cars and vacations and gadgets and happy children. News, certainly 24-hour news, is ideally supposed to educate, inform, edify, offer a new perspective, a new way of seeing an issue or others. Instead, American news is lame and has that inescapable quality of entertainment about it. Also, the idea that our nation is motivated by anything less than noble goals and delusions of benign American power out to do good is profoundly rooted in American culture, and it shows in the news. We don’t act ideologically, like “communists” and “socialists,” we don’t have “ideology,” but merely wish to bestow our great values, freedom and democracy, on the rest of the world. We are impatient with detail and complexity, with nuance and context in understanding social movements and histories. We apply military power for good. Americans will fiercely hold on to their core myths regardless of the reality. How we see the world, based on our own experience, is how we, the mainstream media, report it.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, because of the legacy of the black experience, see at many levels that white Americans, part of the dominant majority worldview, generally cannot. They get it, including, I’m willing to bet, on Palestine, as do virtually every black American I’ve spoken to about this topic. Oppression, exclusion, marginality will do that; will make one far more aware and perceptive of life and the other guy, the guy who has power and is in control. In the end, Al Jazeera’s amounts to reporting that understands the world with a depth, nuance, and context that American media simply cannot replicate.

Al Jazeera producers, hosts, anchors, reporters—Arab, European, Asian, and African—do apply context and depth (as do American reporters who absorb Al Jazeera’s organizational culture and mission). They come from societies with a thousand year history; they get it. Consider Anderson Cooper’s enthusiastic reporting for freedom and good and anti-tyranny in Egypt and Libya. A great thing to be sure, but notable for its naivete, its form over substance, its lack of meaningful observation or insight, its inability to go beyond the surface, its reliance on in-house experts. This is typical of American media. Contrast this with a typical field reporter for Al Jazeera (Arab or European), who can relate from her/his own experience and background, understands at deeper levels the discourse of “state” and “society,” the meaning of authoritarianism, dictatorship and monarchy, the complexity and cynicism of human behavior, the importance of religion or spirituality in human, including Muslim, life, the role of money, wealth, class in the unfolding of political and social change. In this way, Al Jazeera’s reporting and specials anywhere in the world, particularly the third world, contain unique critical analysis and reporting. It’s “real news,” as Hillary has it.

Al Jazeera minces no words about its advocacy for liberalization and change in the Arab world, and of course it’s been signally instrumental, along with the Internet, in this regard. I assume Hillary, from her remarks, is happy with this, but of course the problem is that we’re not happy if the message, the narrative of our role, is not spun exactly, precisely as we want it, to avoid any questions, any whiff, of hypocrisy, lies, and double standard. To accuse Al Jazeera of biased or unprofessional reporting is not to see ourselves and to betray our annoyance at being unable to control others’ perspective on our policies. To say that it’s unbalanced on Palestine-Israel is to deny the permanent near (mainstream media) blackout on the brutal reality of Israel’s occupation and the facts that inform it. Everything is permissible to openly talk about, investigate, report, including Arab revolution of the acceptable kind—except Palestine. 

Is not the network ultimately doing what Westerners say they want to see, a free media that relentlessly questions the prevailing assumptions, received wisdoms, and authorities? Unfortunately, satellite and cable owners refuse to carry Al Jazeera for something other than the false, benign explanation of competition with American networks, and that is fear of “real news” about Israel.

(4 March 2011)
 

42 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    March 5, 2011, 11:13 am

    “This is progress” not just for pointing to the virtues of Al-Jazeera, which cannot be copied by every USA “news” outfits but might be approximated by some of them, but because it contains criticism of USA-style “news”.

    “Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news,” Clinton said Thursday.

    “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,” Clinton said. “Which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”

    It contains a recipe for improvement in “news” from NPR on down. (And NPR is better in some ways than the bottom-feeders, but quite bad about echo-chambering USA’s “party lines” (especially on I/P)).

    • Ellen
      March 5, 2011, 6:39 pm

      Clinton is not praising ALJ, she is pointing out only the failings of US media in that ALJ makes one “feel like they are getting real news” and the new problem for the State department that in the US pubic now realizes that they are not getting real news. That they are being duped by the msm.

      She is not concerned about complete, honest and informative reporting for the American public. She is concerned about the propaganda wars. She admits the deceit behind US media might be failing. And that is what should be troubling to the American public.

      That is what confirms to us — from the highest levels — that “news” in the USA is about propaganda, manipulation of perceptions and promoting agendas that have nothing to do with truth.

      Clinton is acknowledging that honest, informative and interesting reporting is now getting greater attention than the doofkopf (air brain) reporters and narcissistic journalists (who make themselves the story) that predominate US media.

      While Americans were glued to the stories about Anderson Cooper getting roughed up, and Laura Logan (we still do not know the complete incident) Al Jazeera, who had NO REPORTERS allowed in Egypt still was able to give us better coverage. Why? Because it was not about them. It was about the real story unfolding. They had their guys and connections in the crowds with cell phones and hand cameras. They were entrenched in spite of the ban on their presence.

      They did not have teams of reporters with cameras and equipment and beautiful clothes (and even pearl necklaces) covering a revolution in a country where most people live on four dollars a day.

      Think about that. That is real Journalism, not show business and entertainment. Journalism no longer exists out of the United States. We live in a media landscape reminiscent of the darkest days of the USSR.

      “Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, shares a profoundly optimistic view of what’s happening in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and beyond…”

      link to ted.com

      • lobewyper
        March 5, 2011, 7:23 pm

        Ellen,

        Of course Clinton’s not really interested in seeing to it that the American people are told the truth. She’s a member of the power elite in this country which carefully rations truth to the citizenry. But her praise for Al Jazeera was still astounding, IMHO. (And I think it was in fact praise, albeit perhaps, grudging.) She acknowledged that AJE was more “informative” than our own news outlets, as well as the fact that it is available 24/7.

      • Ellen
        March 5, 2011, 8:01 pm

        Look, I think ALJ is absolutely terrific on many levels.
        And I understand that Clinton is a politician (and cannot tell a truth) and that ALJ has been demonized as the enemy by our regime.

        But if you listen carefully to Clintons words she never acknowledged that were were more informative but that listeners FELT LIKE they were getting better information. And “that Al Jazeera has been the leader in, that are literally changing people’s minds and attitudes…”

        She was testifying at a hearing to get a bigger budget for more funds for propaganda. This is what State does. I know this too well.

        And she painted ALJ as winning a propaganda war, not as good information, but that listeners “felt like” they were getting good information. She was praising their work as perceived propaganda instead of saying — “here is a great broadcaster, telling us all sides and covering things very well. This is what Americans want to hear.”

        But yes, she acknowledge the quality of ALJ and did not demonize them. That is a breakthrough. And she inadvertently admitted that US media is a filthy and dishonest propaganda machine.

      • Citizen
        March 6, 2011, 4:06 am

        Yes, Ellen, that’s my take on what Hillary said too. She’s afraid her side is not winning the propaganda war and she wants more money for her department, her current seat of power.

      • lobewyper
        March 6, 2011, 8:27 am

        Ellen,

        Here are the NPR article quotes Clinton as saying, first:

        “Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news,” Clinton said Thursday.

        Then, the article states that she 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,” Clinton said. “Which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”

        It looks to me like she actually was complimenting AJ for providing real news in these quotations. Yes, she does then mention “feeling like you’re getting real news,” which you interpret as her simply acknowledging that AJ is better at propaganda than our media–i.e., not that AJ actually reports more of the “real” news.

        But notice the phrase that precedes the “feeling” remark: “you may not agree with it.” These words suggest to me that Clinton may have been saying here: “Look, it’s obvious to us that AJ is reporting real news here, whether or not we like it. And more importantly, it’s also obvious to anyone else with half a brain that they are reporting real news. That’s why they are so influential worldwide.” My .02$ :)

    • Oscar
      March 6, 2011, 9:10 am

      I’ve always found this this comparison of screenshots from CNN.com and english.aljazeera.com from about a year ago tells you everything you need to know about the venal stupidity of American MSM. link to pulsemedia.org

      US news is larded with celebrity gossip and stenography for the government. Wasn’t always that way. The press is so emasculated that a an epic story of the caliber of Watergate could never be broken in Fred Hiatt’s modern day Washington Post.

      While it is amazing that Hillary dared mention al Jazeera’s name — especially as AJ is seeking to gain a foothold in American cable systems — Ali Abunimah has pointed out that the channel has recently been fawning all over Hillary, cutting away from Egyptian/Libyan coverage to a live feed of her propagandizing. It’s worrisome; will al Jazeera loosen its high journalistic standards as a price it must pay to be carried on American cable systems?

      • Ellen
        March 6, 2011, 11:21 am

        Yes, very possibly.

  2. Avi
    March 5, 2011, 11:32 am

    Professor Issa Khalaf, I enjoy reading your thoughtful articles.

    As an aside, it’s interesting that Clinton made her remarks about Al-Jazeera in an effort to illustrate that the State Department needs a budget that enables it to compete with rising, diverse sources of news. She mentioned Russia Today and China’s CCTV.

    • Walid
      March 5, 2011, 8:24 pm

      Avi, she doesn’t need a budget; she already has lots of money for broadcasting but she doesn’t appear to know it.

      A couple of points to be added to what Prfessor Issa said: Al-Jazeera has an annual budget of around $50 million funded in total by the Emir of the very stable Qatar that happens to be just about the only ME leader left standing without the need to be propped-up by the US and that is an Arab nationalist and pro-US at the same time, which is a rare combination. He’s the Emir that rushed in to donate about $200 million to rebuild one of New Orleans’ devasted neighbourhoods and set up a college fund for some of its less fortunate residents after Katrina. The Arabic al-Jazeera has only one sponsor that advertises on it and it’s the state-owned Qatar Gas, so it’s not beholden to any outside interests and the Emir does not meddle with editorial positions of the network and this explains much of the freedom under which al-Jazeera operates. I don’t have separate numbers on the English Jazeera but I’m guessing they are within the $50 million I mentioned and there is some income flowing from cable subscriptions. In short, the kissing up by Clinton had more to do with properly playing her cards to stay on Jazeera’s good side since this network is now virtually coaching, controlling and cheering the turmoil in several countries and the US likes to side with the winners.

      As to Clinton’s State Department that you say needs a budget to get into broadcasting, it is already responsible for directing and funding Radio Free Europe/Liberty Radio that has an annual budget of about $40 million that still broadcasts out of Prague in 28 languages despite the Iron Curtain having fallen a while back. Clinton is also responsible for the management and funding of the US State Department-owned Arabic TV station in the Middle East called al-Hurra (the free) that was launched in the aftermath of the Iraq II invasion to show the Arabs a kinder face of America to counter its other not-so-nice face that was being shown by al-Jazeera. This station that hardly anyone watches because it is so bland with its cooking classes and Arabic-dubbed US documentaries from the seventies is costing the American taxpayers $100 million a year. Since its launch by Bush in 2004, it has cost $600 million with zero returns in PR for the US. Audiences for al-Hurra in Arab countries run at between half a percent to 2 percent of the total.

      Clinton should be concentrating on Radio Free Europe/Liberty Radio and on al-Hurra for which she is responsible before sticking her nose into broadcasting in the US or kissing up to al-Jazeera that has been instrumental in the overthrow of 2 of America’s pet dictators.

      More about broadcasters in the Arabic language by western countries:
      link to qantara.de

    • RoHa
      March 6, 2011, 12:00 am

      “She mentioned Russia Today and China’s CCTV.”

      RT is one of my favourites for news. I can’t pay any attention to the actual news on CCTV. Drooling over the gorgeous female presenters and reporters makes the rest of my mind shut down.

  3. mig
    March 5, 2011, 11:46 am

    LOL, all Clinton need to do is make a call to mediahouses and demand that they broadcast news a’la RT & CCTV. But we know why she cant do that….;)

  4. lobewyper
    March 5, 2011, 11:51 am

    Thanks for this, Issa, as well as for a very thoughtful analysis of the sources of AJ’s power vis a vis the US MSM:

    “Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news,” Clinton said Thursday.

    “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,” Clinton said. “Which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”

    OMG! Phil and Adam–we’ve got to be all over this!!! An American secretary of state criticizing the US MSM and saying that Al Jazeera is more informative and provides “real news”–Hilary is practically inviting AJE into our TV networks. She’s even saying we have to permit viewpoints with which we don’t agree! Isn’t she saying that we should actually have freedom of speech in the USA???

  5. lobewyper
    March 5, 2011, 1:33 pm

    Issa wrote:

    “Is not the network ultimately doing what Westerners say they want to see, a free media that relentlessly questions the prevailing assumptions, received wisdoms, and authorities? Unfortunately, satellite and cable owners refuse to carry Al Jazeera for something other than the false, benign explanation of competition with American networks, and that is fear of “real news” about Israel.”

    Issa, you are absolutely right, and AJE wouldn’t just offer real news about Israel, it would be real news about a whole lot of important matters (Afghanistan, Libya, The Brotherhood, etc.). Clinton has opened the door with her recent comments, and we now need to push it wide open so all Americans can have TV access to this important source. If I had to think of one thing that could realistically be brought to bear on I-P, getting AJE USA would dwarf everything else. The average American would be shocked to learn the truth regarding the middle east. Although Americans are presently badly misinformed on this subject, they are decent and fair-minded people. Learning the truth about Israeli policies would lead to dramatic shifts in attitudes. AJE’s presence would, I think, raise the standards for reporting for all the remaining MSM here, as well. (I still can hardly believe Clinton praised AJE so highly while dissing her own media. Maybe there’s hope for her yet…)

  6. yourstruly
    March 5, 2011, 2:38 pm

    corporate cable is fearful of the effect that the truth would have on the popularity of its faux news. In addition the events of the past few weeks amptly show that the truth, indeed, can free us all, which worries our government as much as it does corporate cable owners. And despite the Secretary of State’s apparent moment of lucidity, don’t be surprised if she apologizes for her transgression.

    • lobewyper
      March 5, 2011, 3:01 pm

      I wonder if Clinton’s praise for AJ was an indirect warning to the Israeli government that they need to be more reasonable with the Palestinians. American support for Israel would undoubtedly weaken considerably if AJE became generally available here .

  7. chet
    March 5, 2011, 2:41 pm

    A bit of Canadian chauvinism:

    With a profoundly right-wing prime minister and government, we are able to view Al Jazeera, RT (Russian Television) and don’t forget the BBC for objective news reporting.

    • lobewyper
      March 5, 2011, 3:04 pm

      Chet,

      How does AJ measure up against the competition in your part of the country?

      • chet
        March 5, 2011, 4:51 pm

        If by the competition you mean NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN as they measure up to ME coverage, there is simply no comparison – each issue is examined in great depth with absolutely no anti-American propagandizing.

        The most significant difference, of course, is that Al J does not shy away from any of the I/P issues that the US MSM is determined to ignore. If the American public was exposed to ONE WEEK of Al J coverage, I have no hesitation in saying that its view of Israel’s actions and policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians would change dramatically.

    • straightline
      March 5, 2011, 6:20 pm

      If only. As a former Brit with a great fondness for the BBC, I have to say that its news reporting has gone downhill since it was severely mauled by the Blair Government in and after the Hutton Report – Blair has a lot to answer for. With pressure coming from Murdoch, the BBC is too timid to resist Zionist pressures from organisations like the British Board of Jewish Deputies. The son of a good friend of mine, who works for the BBC, volunteered a view pretty close to mine of BBC news and current affairs.

      • MRW
        March 5, 2011, 10:04 pm

        AJ was created by former BBC producers and reporters in 1994 to meet a need in the ME that was not met by ordinary BBC programming because of language concerns. It reorganized under another name in 1996 and got its present home in Qatar.

    • Walid
      March 5, 2011, 8:49 pm

      Chet, you also have Radio-Canada International that broadcasts in a zillion language every day on short-wave to all over the world to give the Canadian point of view on what’s happening. Short wave signals are relayed by local radio stations that subscribe to the service. As for objective news reporting, the CBC beats the constipated BBC any time.

  8. chet
    March 5, 2011, 4:54 pm

    If by the competition you mean NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN as they measure up to ME coverage, there is simply no comparison – each issue is examined in great depth with absolutely no anti-American propagandizing.

    The most significant difference, of course, is that Al J does not shy away from any of the I/P issues that the US MSM is determined to ignore. If the American public was exposed to ONE WEEK of Al J coverage, I have no hesitation in saying that its view of Israel’s actions and policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians would change dramatically.

  9. lobewyper
    March 5, 2011, 5:15 pm

    Chet, appreciate your take on this. We here in the states have GOT to get AJE! When you say it would only take ONE WEEK, I believe you. Mearsheimer has said essentially the same thing–that it wouldn’t take very long if Americans were to be exposed to the truth of the situation. And here we have Hilary Clinton essentially rolling out the welcome mat…very cool, indeed! Phil, what about an online petition here on Mondoweiss to get AJE?

    • Potsherd2
      March 5, 2011, 5:47 pm

      Using the petition at AJE would probably be more effective. And individually calling up your local Comcast office or whoever, demanding that they carry the station.

      • lobewyper
        March 5, 2011, 6:41 pm

        Yeah, you’re probably right, Potsherd. But when we do it, wouldn’t hurt a bit to mention that Hilary places it above all our currently available news networks… I’m thinking that AJE could be just the medicine this country needs–that it could generate immense pressure for a reasonable I-P deal as well as expose the extent to which our government is beholden to Tel Aviv’s wishes (not to mention those of the military-industrial complex).

      • lobewyper
        March 5, 2011, 7:01 pm

        As Avi noted early in this thread, Hilary’s remarks were not in fact intended to invite AJE into this country, but to goad our own news outlets to attain a higher standard. But she has nonetheless said that AJE clearly exemplifies that higher standard and is therefore a better source of international news. We must take this and run with it! (She was probably also chagrined by the fact that American networks had little of value to say about the current revolutionary fervor sweeping through the ME.)

    • Ellen
      March 5, 2011, 6:51 pm

      Agreed. It could take a week to get Americans to see and understand the truth. And there are too many entrenched powers that are afraid of the truth and what it might mean for their interests. That is the only reason Americans are not allowed to have information outside of Time Warner and Murdock’s News Corp.

      There used to be ,media laws forbidding cross ownership of media outlets to prevent exactly what had developed in the US over the last 25 years. But lobbyists successfully paid off the whores of Congress and put an end to that and look were we are now.

    • chet
      March 5, 2011, 9:43 pm

      It should not be ignored that RT ventures into the I/P issues on a regular basis with good local video and with interviews of knowledgeable experts who are never seen on US MSM outlets – Chomsky, Finkelstein,etc,etc.

      As well, for a diehard old lefty like myself, the daily Thom Hartman show presents a welcome critical POV that would NEVER be permitted on MSM TV.

  10. lobewyper
    March 5, 2011, 8:01 pm

    The strange thing about truth is that it’s very addictive. Having tasted it, tofu truth no longer works for you. We have AJE online right now. As more and more people realize how valuable it is, the forces insisting upon TV access will gain strength. Maybe it won’t happen overnight, or this year, or even the next. But it will happen–we shall eventually have AJE on our networks.

    • fuster
      March 5, 2011, 9:42 pm

      it won’t take years. all it will take is people willing to pay extra money to the cable providers to get the service.

      or, as in Vermont, publicly-owned cable could carry it.

      either way, if people want it, and they should, it’ll come.

      • Ellen
        March 6, 2011, 11:30 am

        Fus, you obviously do not know how cable works. Even if you never watch Fox and do not want to see it, for example, you are paying for it if you get cable. There is not a choice.

        And if ALJ were available over cable in most of the US, even those who do not want it are paying for it anyway in their monthly fee.

        ALJ will only be available if enough cable subscribers cancel cable because there is no ALJ.

        I do not see that happening as most who want their cable do not care and most of those who do have been brainwashed to think it is something evil.

      • fuster
        March 6, 2011, 11:46 am

        Ellen, perhaps i don’t understand, but I do have the idea that cable providers receive a monthly fee for the service, and are not going to undertake the expense of ADDING AJ-TV unless they think that it will increase revenue, either by attracting additional subscribers or by allowing for an additional fee from the current ones.

        Cancelling isn’t a spur as much as showing that there’s a demand for the AJ-YV. If people show that they want it, it will come.

      • Chaos4700
        March 6, 2011, 11:52 am

        or, as in Vermont, publicly-owned cable could carry it.

        And how many publicly-owned cable companies are there? I wish you’d stop mocking us. People want universal health care. Did we get that? People want the wars to end. Did we get that?

        The fact is, the United States is no long a free market capitalism. Big corporations no longer hold mere economic monopolies, but political monopolies as well.

        And nothing hurts the powers that be more than the truth. Just look at what’s being done to Bradley Manning in retribution for his veracity.

      • fuster
        March 6, 2011, 12:16 pm

        I hadn’t realized that Manning was being held on a charge of first-degree veracity.

      • fuster
        March 6, 2011, 2:13 pm

        Chaos, people have to pay to get things. good healthcare surely ain’t cheap.
        and wars won’t end until people STOP wanting them.

        and you’ll deserve a little bit of the mockery. I have some hope that it serves a constructive purpose.

  11. MRW
    March 5, 2011, 9:44 pm

    Fox TV under the auspices of SUN -TV (the Asper family) wants to broadcast in Canada unfettered the way it does in the US.

    The Harper government tried to rewrite Canada’s Radio Act, and the Canadians went into an uproar last week and shot it down.

    Canada’s Radio Act requires that “a licenser may not broadcast….any false or misleading news.”Here’ s Robert Kennedy Jr in HuffPo:

    Canada’s Radio Act requires that “a licenser may not broadcast….any false or misleading news.” The provision has kept Fox News and right wing talk radio out of Canada and helped make Canada a model for liberal democracy and freedom. As a result of that law, Canadians enjoy high quality news coverage including the kind of foreign affairs and investigative journalism that flourished in this country before Ronald Reagan abolished the “Fairness Doctrine” in 1987. Political dialogue in Canada is marked by civility, modesty, honesty, collegiality, and idealism that have pretty much disappeared on the U.S. airwaves. When Stephen Harper moved to abolish anti-lying provision of the Radio Act, Canadians rose up to oppose him fearing that their tradition of honest non partisan news would be replaced by the toxic, overtly partisan, biased and dishonest news coverage familiar to American citizens who listen to Fox News and talk radio. Harper’s proposal was timed to facilitate the launch of a new right wing network, “Sun TV News” which Canadians call “Fox News North.”

    Harper, often referred to as “George W. Bush’s Mini Me,” is known for having mounted a Bush like war on government scientists, data collectors, transparency, and enlightenment in general. He is a wizard of all the familiar tools of demagoguery; false patriotism, bigotry, fear, selfishness and belligerent religiosity. Read more

    Frank Mankowitz told me that NPR copied CBC Radio and that CBC Radio copied CKUA (Alberta) programming style.

    • MRW
      March 5, 2011, 9:51 pm

      Something stupid happened in this post and the link, which I put into the blockquote, (1) didn’t publish, and (2) a subsequent comment didn’t publish either.

      Here’s the link to Kennedy’s HuffPo article:
      link to huffingtonpost.com

      My additional comment:
      Frank Mankowitz (also spelled Mankiewicz), first president and CEO of NPR, told me in NYC (circa 1981) that NPR is a copy of CBC Radio, and that CBC Radio was a copy of CKUA, the Alberta Canada public radio station started in 1927.

      • MRW
        March 5, 2011, 10:22 pm

        I need to issue a correction. SUN-TV is Québecor, not the Asper family. The SUN (tabloid) newspapers were the Asper family, who filed for bankruptcy. My mistake for confusing the two. CanWest was the Asper family. CanWest went downhill with heady acquisitions pre-2008 after the old man died. The kids ruined it.

        Goldman Sachs owned a sizeable/sizable chunk of CanWest (40?) and divested after the financial crisis started.

  12. Citizen
    March 6, 2011, 4:26 am

    Here’s the best example of why Al Jazeera English won’t be in the USA anytime soon–a call for congress to put aid to Israel up on the chopping block along with everything else, or at least make said aid conditional on stopping the settlements, reducing aid dollar for dollar for money spent on settlements: link to english.aljazeera.net

    • lobewyper
      March 6, 2011, 10:32 am

      Citizen,

      Don’t you think Rosenberg’s piece could also be interpreted as a stalking horse for views already tacitly shared by many in the US government? Who (except the Lobby and its supporters) can be against stopping the settlements? Although this is probably way too hopeful, maybe the administration would like to have AJE here to help build public pressure for a more rational Israeli foreign policy…

      • Potsherd2
        March 6, 2011, 11:59 am

        Enough of them are against SAYING that the US is against stopping the settlements that Obama was forced to veto the UN resolution.

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