US officials flock to appear on Al Jazeera

By David Edwards
Monday, February 7, 2011 15:44 EDT
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What a difference a revolution can make.

Members of the Obama administration are flocking to appear on Al Jazeera, one of the most influential media sources in the Arab world.

US officials are desperate to have their spin of events in the Middle East included as millions tune in to the network’s coverage of the uprising in Egypt.

More than a dozen times in recent days, US State Department officials, including chief spokesman Philip J. Crowley and Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, have appeared on the network. The turn around is the result of a State Department policy review completed in December.

“If we are not in the conversation, people will be speaking for us or about us,” Dana Shell Smith, deputy assistant secretary for international media engagement, told the Los Angeles Times. “We need to make sure we are out there speaking for ourselves.”

Shell Smith’s office was created by the Obama administration last year to begin to reach out to international media.

“The State Department has assigned staff in media hubs such as London, Dubai and Brussels to field requests from Al Jazeera and other Arabic-language media,” the Times noted.

“Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all have appeared on the network’s Arabic and English channels in the last year,” the paper added.

The White House has also turned to the network as a primary source of information about protests in the region.

The embrace is a big change from the days when the Bush administration showed open hostility towards the network.

In 2001, the US fired missiles at Al Jazeera’s office in Kabul. “The building we struck was a known Al Qaeda facility in central Kabul,” US Assistant Secretary of Defense Victoria Clarke later said.

Al Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed when US bombs hit the network’s Baghdad offices in 2003. “This coalition does not target journalists,” Brigadier General Vincent K. Brooks insisted. “We don’t know every place journalists are operating on the battlefield. It’s a dangerous place, indeed.”

A furious Donald Rumsfeld blasted the network’s 2004 coverage of civilian casualties in Fallujah as “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.”

That same year, US President George W. Bush reportedly told British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he wanted to bomb Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Qatar, a US ally.

“There’s no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn’t want him to do it,” a source told the Daily Mirror.

“He made clear he wanted to bomb Al Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere.”

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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  • Anonymous

    …”US officials flock to appear on Al Jazeera”…

    In the meantime FAUX NEWS is trying to find the location of “Baghdad Bob”, to hire him and to compete with the high ratings of Al Jazeera:

    “On April 7, 2003, Al-Sahaf claimed that there were no American troops in Baghdad, and that the Americans were committing suicide by the hundreds at the city’s gates, despite the fact that the imminent fall of Baghdad and the Hussein government was obvious to those aware of the progress of the war, and that American tanks were in the streets only a few hundred meters from the location where the press conference was being held. His last public appearance as Information Minister was on April 8, 2003, when he said that the Americans “are going to surrender or be burned in their tanks. They will surrender; it is they who will surrender.”

  • http://twitter.com/btmfdrsheaven rebecca meritt

    What’s the McDonald’s commercials look like? Is there a Walmart in Dubai?

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Aaah, shit! There goes the neighborhood. Oh, well, it was good while it lasted. I remember the disappointment I felt when the sheeple discovered WikiLeaks. It was like when the other kids discovered your secret hiding place and it was no longer secret. Now, it’s Al Jazeera. Won’t be long now before that gets hijacked too.

  • Anonymous

    poor FAUX, the luster has faded already, excuse me while I have a good cry…OK now that that is over HAHAHAHAHAHA.
    When the “Great Weeping Boner” shows up on AJ, old Roger Ailes will have the big one…

  • Anonymous

    If they can’t get “Baghdad Bob” there’s always Ollie North

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2NPRPRYZC3RF424Y4G4NKPY3FM Anya O

    I have to say that I have watched Al Jazeera in the past but certainly not in the past few years. With what’s been going on in the ME, I have started to watch it again. It SEEMS reputable, relativiely biased free and it isn’t full of commentary and one-sided views. There is a movement going on to petition the cable companies to start airing Al Jazeera. I hope it happens.

  • Anonymous

    Oh help us all.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U4CB4JMBKUBO6NL2RNREZDZUEA Freeky_Fried_Chicken

    Talking heads like Obama will only denigrate Al Jazeera’s credibility; I hope they resist the temptation to provide him with another dais.

  • Anonymous

    Golly !

    Is it ever more betterer than Faux News ?

  • http://twitter.com/cburrell3 Charles Burrell

    I’m just waiting for the ditherheads at Fox to start accusing the administration of collaborating with terrorists and Islamic extremists over this. Oh wait a minute, they already have…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q7G2NHLD62L3CDU7VHFZ4QPVQM Unknown

    Now thats irony. If I was Al Jazeera I would say up yours and leave it at that

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EZ4W5CDCIVXKIIKESYBN2EP6VE brian

    I hear you… For instance, one would think it would be GREAT if the majority of the populace read Raw.. But if they did, it would just turn into another CNN/Fox/etc. Just like one would think WikiLeaks would have similar results as the Pentagon Papers, but in reality, it has just turned more so-called-Liberals and Republicans into even bigger and harder neocons…

  • Anonymous

    A lot of folks don’t know that you can stream both Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera English on your iPod Touch, iPhone, & iPad. For free.
    One thing I really like about the network is its almost complete lack of commercials. Quatar Air & a couple of high-tech firms are about it, and ads run very infreqently- like one or two short ads per hour.

  • Anonymous


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2NPRPRYZC3RF424Y4G4NKPY3FM Anya O

    If that’s the case, then it only goes to prove the rampant racism in their reporting. As if being affiliated with anything Arab that was not rubber stamped by the US makes someone a terrorist-sympathizer. How utterly ridiculous.

    The only thing Fox News has to worry about is people getting an outside-the-box perspective on what is going on in that part of the world. It’s not just Fox, of course. The reason Al Jazeera isn’t on cable networks in the US is because our ignorance of the goings-on over there is what fuels our ridiculous foreign policy decisions regarding the ME. they want voters to only get the US’s version of what is going on over there. They don’t want people to really have all sides of the story.


    I have always considered Al Jazeera as a great foreign news source. I hope they make it in America.

  • Anonymous

    If bush had his way he would have bombed every country in the mid east and Venezuela. He’s a moron with no honor or integrity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Zentrails/100001475536421 Bob Zentrails

    “Shell Smith’s office was created by the Obama administration last year to begin to reach out to international media.”

    Gee kind of makes you think that this Obama guy actually knows what he’s doing doesn’t it?

    And quite a contrast between him and the Chaney sock puppet we used to have as “President.”

    “”He made clear he wanted to bomb Al Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere.”"
    Classic Chaney. If in doubt, bomb the shit out of them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Zentrails/100001475536421 Bob Zentrails

    Hell, I’d like to watch it on my TV. Think that’ll ever happen?

    I am so sick of the garbage that is passed off as “news” these days even if you leave out the most putrid of them all, Fox “News.”

  • Anonymous

    Al Jazeera is the world standard in journalism today. They are the bane of fox, and the replacement for CNN. We remember CNN in the Kuwait war, aggressively tracking the news, getting the story out. Now only Al Jazeera does that. Being bombed in Egypt is a mark of honor. Dictators do not like having the truth out. Now with Huffington gone, they are second only to the site we are on.

  • http://twitter.com/DeliciousAnon Richard C. Mongler

    I can recommend “control room” for an interesting docu about Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Iraq invasion, which also includes the incident where Tareq Ayyoub was killed by US bombs.
    part 1 on youtube here


    (DUBBYA……) “He made clear he wanted to bomb Al Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere.”
    Whataguy! ,,,,and just think…once we elected him President.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GLVCHUMFHDFTXVHUPPSXDZ3K2E TheBMT

    id agree to that


    They got a good start….A J are blacked out (or are they?) Looks like they were ‘blacked out’ in the US when nobody knew what would happen…Then, they were ‘blacked on’ again when all the political Hogs began linin’ up at the A J trough.
    All in 12 days!.. Im impressed!


    Dubai dreams of a Walmart…but there aren’t enough foreign worker-slaves so far.




    We’ll always have Amanpour…….

  • Anonymous

    I’ve just started watching AlJazzera with this revolution in Egypt and must say I am very impressed by their thorough coverage. I haven’t bothered watching American news channels for many years now, it is useless and insipid and Fox not worth even thinking about.

  • Anonymous

    Al Jazeera should be nominated for a Nobel Prize.

    They were the only organization that exposed half the shit Bush was trying to conceal in Iraq. And now here they are putting their reporters lives on the line in Egypt.

    This small and fearless group is possibly the bravest and most deserving of heroic recognition of any news organization in the world.

  • Anonymous

    If Rumsfeld said it, its a lie. Period. He is a walking colonoscopy.

    Bush was so overridden by bad intel from his own people like Hadley and Darth “no pulse” Cheney that he didnt have a clue what was going on.

  • Anonymous

    HOw about http://english.aljazeera.net/

    There is a little button to the right that says ‘watch live’. Ive been watching for about 2 weeks now.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/LEUDUVF5EGJZRZETF3KV53P7BQ Thomas

    Just looked at the calender. On Wednesday, it will be Feb. 9, 2011. That makes it 02-09-11. The first attack was on 09-11-01. The first one was in 01 on 9-11. It’s a little scary to think that the second one might be on 2-9-11.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    They must be in a big hurry to spin any explanation that doesn’t involve hateful manipulation of world food prices by large cabals of businessmen. Its not just that Mubarak was in power for 30 years with the US’s blessing… its that he was tolerable until people with jobs couldn’t feed their kids anymore. I’m sure no one in the business community is eager to see that link covered extensively on any channel. Too bad Al Jazeera is just as eager to kiss corporate ass as anyone else.

  • Anonymous

    You can watch it.

    There are many live broadcasts from Al Jazeera on Link TV.

    I get it on DirecTV andI watch it all the time.

  • Greg Eckhart

    You have excellent taste

  • Anonymous

    Duh! Aljazeera rocks. They should have been doing this 10 years ago. And it should be broadcast throughout this country. We’d all be a lot smarter. Including the flocking officials.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    They weren’t blocked per say. As is everything in Capitalism, it is greed that causes the censorship, hardships, etc. The station wasn’t carried by cable. I’ve been watching them on the Internet.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Oh, yes. If you want to see the perfect example of that, go on Yahoo. You read the comments on any article on WikiLeaks and it makes you wanna hurl. It doesn’t awaken the consciousness of people, it just gives them one more thing to hate & attack while remaining completely ignorant of it.

  • Anonymous

    “He(Bush Jr) made clear he wanted to bomb Al Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere.”.

    I’m sure Bush Jr wants to bomb them now.

    I saw a video of a commetary program that Al-Jazeera was showing. The program had two guests on the show. The host aired the Egypt protest showing quite a number of people in the square. The host then showed the video of the Saddam statue being pulled down.

    What was embarrassing was everyone agreed that the U.S staged the Saddam statue being pulled down. There were no flowers no candy and no one showed up.

    The Egypt video on the other hand is a geniune case of people showing up for democracy.

    The point of the two videos was to get the everyone to discuss the difference.

    I’m sure Bush Jr wants to bomb Al-Jazeera. He was made out to be the clown that he is.

  • Anonymous

    Bush was so overridden by bad intel from his own people like Hadley and Darth “no pulse” Cheney that he didnt have a clue what was going on.


    He knew damn well what was going on, despite the stupid look that is permanently adhered to his face!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I agree.

    I listened to CounterSpin this AM and one of the discussions was about the NYT and how to get the true story one had to go to the African Press or the Asian Press (I don’t remember if Al Jazeera was mentioned). The supposed best newspaper in the US is outdone by the African and Asian Press???? I heard last week that the best progressive daily in the world was the Guardian. I don’t know but it was interesting.

    I think this is it, but I don’t want to listen again.


    My obvious question is Why? Either way the money isn’t that big. What’s big is that they are now collecting many new believers from tv and online.

  • Anonymous

    James Connolly said the rich will always betray the poor.

  • Anonymous

    ……..”Some people say……………..”

  • overdoneputaforkinit

    Which network will Americans come to trust more? Al Jazeera or Fox News?

    I know why Bush wants to bomb Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera may soon be “over here” and wreck the narrative and propaganda built up by Fox News. “We have to fight them over here before they come over here.”

  • Schmice

    As long as America is not in control of the situation, its conservative media will do everything to bash Al Jazeera and deny it any legitimacy. I mean, after all, how is it possible for the Egyptians to know how to feel unless they are being told what to think by FOX et al.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mejsmith Michael Smith

    Fox news? You mean that foreign owned TV network. It figures that the most right wing station in the Western Hemisphere is foreign owned. So really, any politician that has shown up on Fox can’t say much about anyone showing up on Al Jazeera.

  • Anonymous


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OPVQJIZRU3ENNGDUF2LZGIXCSI Che_G.

    Al Jazeera English stands in contrast to a limp US mainstream business media who decided accurate information is meant for corporate and subscribed intelligence gatherers. The truth is too valuable a commodity for an ownership society.

  • http://twitter.com/Howieisright Howieisright

    Facebook to could be so easy to manipulate look who owns stock in it and how they regard privacy. I have even had problems with my comments showing up when I checked with another account. Twitter is respectable though.

  • Marcelo

    Russia Today is another good alternative news source. They have interesting interviews and the questioning in these is much better than mainstream news sources. They have many clips on youtube.

  • Anonymous

    “US officials flock to appear on Al Jazeera.” Yeah, after they got permission from AIPAC.

  • Anonymous

    Bush was a disaster for his own country media let alone a foreign country!! Wonder what he will do on his 100,000 acres in Paraguay he bought before he left office? I have been reading Al Jazeera for years. I didn’t know that the US bombed them!!! Nothing surprises me about the Bush’s…bunch of thugs along with his administration. He was the worst president history will ever know…and that includes Nixon. Most Americans want the entire administration charged for war crimes.

  • enorceht

    ahh yes the politicians and spin masters want to speak but will they be able to answer any questions without babbling …. i think not

  • enorceht

    bu$h & company dealings with al jazeera – a small entry in wikipedia seems to list the facts with more info

    Al Jazeera bombing memo

  • enorceht

    that would be only if the faux news zombies will watch anything besides faux … they would probably be afraid of being “excommunicated” from their drug

  • nycplayboy78

    If you live in the Washington, DC Metro like myself you already have Al-Jazeera and I watch it religiously Simply go to MHZ Networks @ http://mhznetworks.org/mhzworldview/ to what channel it comes on both Satellite and Cable in the US Nationwide.

  • PeterGrfx

    Numerology doesn’t cut it.

  • PeterGrfx

    It was not about “bad intel,” it was about the biggest lie of all – no, not the WMD lie, but that Bush hadn’t decided to invade Iraq until 9/11 or until he had gotten all the “facts.” The fact is, he had decided to invade Iraq as soon as he knew his election was assured. His first treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, wrote in his memoir of his brief service in that job (he was canned for opposing the Bush tax cuts) that the Bushies were talking about invading Iraq from day one – long before 9/11.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Yes, I look into Pravda from time to time. Having been there already, they see things differently. And, do you realize how low the US has fallen that we know have to look to Russia for the truth? Man!

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Advertisement, remember?

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Facebook is very scary for more than one reason. You do know about all the DHS/FBI spying thing going on with them, right? Also, a while back, a CA judge ruled that people could be served with legal papers on Facebook and that would be construed as good legal service. Imagine that!

    I don’t do Twitter. I’ve seen so much going on with it.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the link. Bush and Blair..doesn’t surprise me. I read aljazeera alot during the Bush years as I knew it would publish accurate stories. We didn’t get that during Bush years as he dictated to the media. First president in history that had eggs thrown at his limo at the innauguration day. No President in history ever had thousands of protestors against a president who they chanted “Hail to the Thief” Was a horrid scene. Even more horrid as this administration continued. As a senior, never in the history of my life have I ever seen anything like it. Thanks again

  • Anonymous

    We have been watching Al Jazeera, and others on LINKtv and FSTV,for a long time. Pity you if you cannot get those channels, but you can always to aljazeera.net


    Visibility is good but as the saying goes: “The best way to kill a bad product is to advertise it brilliantly.” (Bernbach)