White House Continues Cheering for Al Jazeera: ‘A Really Important Media Entity’

Hillary Clinton loves it. It seems to love the Muslim Brotherhood. And now Barack Obama seems to be a fan of it, too. What is “it?” The Middle Eastern cable news channel Al Jazeera.

In a lengthy article, Politico reveals that the once-demonized outlet during the Bush administration has become a favorite in the Obama White House. In fact, its programing is plastered all over Pennsylvania Avenue and Obama is singing its praises:

Seven years after then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called the broadcaster’s reporting “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable” and President George W. Bush joked about bombing it, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised it as “real news” in her recent Senate testimony.

Not only that, her staffers, as well as those of the CIA and the Obama White House, were attending the Congressional Correspondents’ Dinner as Al-Jazeera’s guests.

“They are a really important media entity, and we have a really great relationship with them,” said Dana Shell Smith, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for international media engagement, who speaks Arabic and has frequently appeared on the channel. “This administration has empowered those of us who actually do the communicating to be in a close relationship with Al-Jazeera. They understand that the relationship can’t consist of complaining to each other about the differences we have.”

The differences also have shrunk as the big story in the Middle East has shifted from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the democratic movements sweeping the region. In the recent uprisings, U.S. interests tended to line up with Al-Jazeera’s, and President Barack Obama alluded to both the network’s influence and its pro-democracy bent in remarks caught on an open mic during a closed-door fundraiser last week.

“The emir of Qatar come by the Oval Office today, and he owns Al-Jazeera basically,” Obama said in remarks recorded by CBS News’s Mark Knoller. “Pretty influential guy. He is a big booster, big promoter of democracy all throughout the Middle East. Reform, reform, reform. You’re seeing it on Al-Jazeera.”

[…]

Today, when he visits the White House, officials tell him they watch AJE to monitor the protests, and at the State Department, “when you go down the hallway, you see it on virtually every TV and computer.”

That’s bad news, says Cliff Kincaid, director of the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Reporting and president of America’s Survival. He told Politico that Al Jazeera’s programming could put Americans at risk:

“To Comcast, and other cable and satellite providers, we say, do not expand Al-Jazeera throughout the U.S. Otherwise you will increase the chances of Americans being killed by those manipulated by ‘Jihad TV,’ the terrorist network, and you, Comcast, will have blood on your hands,” Kincaid told an audience of about 30 at the press club.

(courtesy of: http://planetfreedom.org )

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