Saturday, January 29

Censorship Alert

New York Times: Under Pressure, Qatar May Sell Jazeera Station.

Administration officials have been nervous to talk about the station, being sensitive to charges that they are trying to suppress free expression. Officials at the State and Defense Departments and at the embassy in Qatar were reluctant to comment. However, some administration officials acknowledged that the well-publicized American pressure on the station — highlighted when Qatar was not invited to a summit meeting on the future of democracy in the Middle East last summer in Georgia — has drawn charges of hypocrisy, especially in light of President Bush's repeated calls for greater freedoms and democracy in the region.

And also in light of the administration's willingness to buy journalists with public funds to promote its agenda--a practice that fits the legal definition of "government propaganda," which is forbidden by law, rather neatly.

I personally think it would fair to say that these people nervous about having known that they are trying to suppress freedom of expression--and not exactly behaving like free-market fundamentalists, either.

If you have ever followed my blog from my previous career as a translator, you know I follow al-Jazeera carefully--I read and understand Arabic moderately well. It's pretty comparable to MSNBC in terms of its balance to bias ratio on the news side. Not a stellar standard, but, hey, we let FOX get away with all the crap it gets away with, right? I notice that they have finally started translating some of the "vox populi" sort of programming as well: Meet Dr. Kareem, the Qatari Dr. Phil.

I have never seen a credible charge that those Jazeerites have reported untruths. That's not a standard we consistently hold our own media to, although in most cases it will hold itself to that standard. They mainly object to its broadcasting truths our government would rather downplay, like civilian corpses and the fact that public opinion is strongly against them. But hey, if you want to sell ads to Arabs, you have to speak to your viewership, right? We broadcast tasteful memorials to young dead Marines, they broadcast dead Iraqis getting shoveled out of bomb craters onto carts. C'est la guerre. All news is local.


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1/23/2006 09:11:00 pm  

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