Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Times and the real Al Jazeera

I was nodding my way through The Times leader this morning which was, I thought, rightly saying how the media was exaggerating and exploiting the story about British soldiers mistreating Iraqis, and in particular Al-Jazeera, which has shown the video helping to inflame sentiment.

It's nothing new, of course, Al Jazeera has at every opportunity pulled news stunts like this before. The station made its name following 9/11, when it had exclusive footage of Osama bin Laden. Durin the invasion of Iraq, it showed images of dead and captured British and American soldiers during the war, provided to it by the Iraqi regime.

 On its website, it has a section headline "Iraq under occupation". It's not exactly your traditional Western news organisation. It's very unimpartial, that's its bag. Soon to be the bag of Sir David Frost and the BBC's Rageh Omar who are both Al Jazeera-bound.
The Times today, however, went a little further, labelling Al Jazeera as the "supposedly prestigious Al Jazeera network".

It then cited examples it had read on the Al Jazeera website yesterday: "For example, the story was laid out under the thoroughly neutral headline: 'Another episode in ‘Iraq War Crimes’ series'. It sat alongside a chat room hosted by a Dr Kareem entitled 'Let’s Talk' which featured questions for “debate' including: 'Britain will learn a bitter lesson along with the US not only in Iraq but in Iran very soon' and 'Let Sharon’s painful death be the punishment for his crimes!' and 'Would you sentence Sharon, Blair or Bush to death?'. Sir David Frost, the station’s new signing, might wish to be aware of the unsavoury company that he is keeping."

Frost would surely want to be aware of all of this on the Al Jazeera website, if in fact it was the Al Jazeera website The Times was getting steamed up about. However, it isn't.

Al Jazeera operates Arabic- and English-language websites. Its English language website at, however, should not be confused with, an unrelated English language website that publishes news and opinion pieces of an inflammatory nature about current affairs in the Middle East, where Dr Kareem and his ilk are located. If only someone had told The Times.

Somebody get someone a lawyer. Posted by Picasa


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