Saturday, February 5, 2011

Back Off, Al Jazeera.

I am growing increasingly frustrated with Al Jazeera's coverage of what is going on in Egypt. They have gained a lot of viewers and attention over the last 11 days and have a new found power. I generally like Al Jazeera, and am pleased to see that they have done well, BUT, I am also disappointed with a number of issues, particularly when it comes to how it reports on US/Israeli involvement. Face it, Al Jazeera is hardly unbiased when it comes to these countries. It continually rails against them. That isn't saying there aren't legitimate grievances. There are. But, when watching Al Jazeera, I can't help but get the sense that the US and Israel are the most evil, horrible countries on the planet. They wait with bated breath on what the US and Israel are going to say about what is going on, and then slam them when they do make a comment. They seem obsessed with the US and Israel, while getting angry because American media is not reporting the situation from the same vantage point as Al Jazeera. Bizarre, really.

I have been watching CNN quite a bit during this crisis and am finding them to be a bit better in their coverage. They have been looking at the crisis from a broader perspective, I find. They have been accused of looking at the crisis from and American perspective, which I have not found to be completely true. They are an American based channel, so of COURSE they will often look at the situation from an American perspective to a good degree.  However, they have also looked at the greater reality of what is going on in Egypt and how it is being seen in the rest of the world and what the impact of this revolution will be, something Al Jazeera is less concerned with. Egypt is a very important country in the region. The uprising there has MASSIVE consequences for the rest of the Middle East and the world. But, for trying to report this, Al Jazeera slams them. Why? I don't live in Egypt. Most of us watching do not. We see what is happening and wonder how it will affect us all. It is an uprising among Egyptians, and that is being acknowledged and reported on. BUT, there is uncertainty and plenty of it. There doesn't seem to be a clear leader ready to step in if Mubarak steps down now. That is concerning for both Egypt and the world. Al Jazeera doesn't seem to get that point. The Muslim Brotherhood? A lot of people have a lot of questions about them. CNN is giving a range of opinions on that group. And, although those in Tahrir Square is made up of people from all walks of Egyptian life, the Muslim Brotherhood is the largest opposition group involved in politics. Of COURSE people want to know about them. I don't think they should be feared, but I understand people's desire to know about them, and to get to understand them.

This isn't to say that Al Jazeera is not doing a good job. In many ways, they are. They are providing a great service. So, I am not anti-Al Jazeera. I suppose I became far more frustrated after I saw this report, which I felt was particularly low:

After watching this, I wanted to stick up for American networks, which is not something I usually rush to do. But, in this case, I think the US is getting a bad rap. Their main target, of course, is Fox News, which is a given. I can't say they are a reliable voice for much, so they deserve their fair share of criticism. However, other networks are doing their very best, as far as I am concerned, just as Al Jazeera is. By taking a Fox News approach to reporting on American media, they have stooped to a Fox News level, which is pretty low. I expect more from Al Jazeera, and hope they focus on the news and stories, and focus less on beating up their peers, and lay off a bit more on the US and Israel (again, something I never imagined myself saying).

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