Mid-East crisis: Clinton backs Al-Jazeera, criticizes US media in Senate
Washington, Mar. 5 (ANI): US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praise for the Al-Jazeera's coverage of the Middle East crisis, and simultaneous criticism of American media reportage before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, has been welcomed by the Qatar-based Arab broadcaster.
It maybe recalled that a decade ago, Washington attacked Al-Jazeera as a propagator of anti-American propaganda. Now, however, Clinton has cited the same network for fine news coverage, and tweaked the U.S. media in the process.
The Arab broadcaster says it's ready to take advantage of what it considers a major boost in its acceptance in the United States.
Al-Jazeera has been a leader in changing people's minds and attitudes, Clinton told lawmakers earlier this week.
"Like it or hate it, it is really effective. In fact, viewership of Al-Jazeera is going up in the United States because it is real news. 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 that is not providing information to us, let alone foreigners," ABC News quoted Clinton, as saying.
In fact, Al-Jazeera's television viewership hasn't gone up much in the U.S. because it is still not widely available, seen only on scattered cable systems in Vermont, Ohio and Washington, D.C.
But online viewership of Al-Jazeera English spiked during the demonstrations in Egypt - up 2,500 percent at its peak, with nearly half of the followers from the United States, the network said.
Al-Jazeera has taken advantage of the moment, asking visitors to its website to click a tab that automatically generates a letter to the users' local cable system encouraging them to add the network. More than 40,000 e-mails have been generated, its spokeswoman Molly Conroy said.
The network's leaders in the past two weeks have also visited with Time Warner, Comcast and Cablevision executives to seek space on their systems, she said.
"The events in Egypt have convinced an increasing number of Americans, the secretary of state included, that the coverage Al-Jazeera has provided for these events is something that is seen as a dramatic shift in perception of the network," said Abderrahim Foukara, Al-Jazeera's Washington bureau chief.
Fox News Channel's Michael Clemente said he was "surprised and kind of curious" by Clinton's remarks.
However, former CNN Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno agreed with Clinton's assessment.
"She's right," said Sesno, who is now director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.
"Cable news has become cable noise. It was intended to be an opportunity to inform people, and instead it has become an opportunity to inflame people," he said. (ANI)
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