Watch "War of Ideas"
- + War of Ideas
- Watch "War of Ideas"
- Interview With the Reporter
- Extended Interviews
- The Arab Media Revolution
- Middle East Media Hubs
- + Requiem
- Watch "Requiem"
- A Turkish Winter
- Reporting in Iraq: A "Catastrophe" for Journalists
- Death Toll
- Russia: Silencing Dissent
- Conflict and Censorship
- The Guardian "Unlimited"
- South Korea: Everyone's A Journalist
In the fourth hour of News War, FRONTLINE/World reporter Greg Barker travels to the Middle East to examine the rise of Arab satellite TV channels and their impact on the "war of ideas" at a time of convulsive change and conflict in the region. His report focuses on the growing influence of Al Jazeera, and the controversy around the recent launch of Al Jazeera English, which U.S. satellite and cable companies have declined to carry. Barker also visits the "war room" of the State Department's Rapid Response Unit, which monitors Arab media 24 hours a day, and meets with U.S. military officers whose mission is to engage the Arab news channels in debate. (Read the credits)
I was deployed to the Middle East in 2005. When I returned, I realized how ignorant we here in America are about the Arab point of view. We need to know each other and have a free exchange of ideas to start changing minds in the region. Thank you for a great report.
Corpus Christi, TX
Thank you once again for an excellent program. Without PBS/Frontline/Now/Charlie Rose and CSPAN, we the viewers would have nothing but censored broadcasts -- especially from corporate sponsored programing. NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOX are lame and without substance for the 'thinking, caring, politically inquiring citizen and voter.' They are all tainted by their corporate owners and the business-oriented Bush administration. All they are capable of is tabloid journalism and propaganda. If it appeals to a 6th grade mentality, that's what is broadcast. Shameful!
Yes, al-Jazeera-English and any other English speaking Arab channels certainly should be broadcast in the USA. We aren't children who need to be protected from inappropriate ideas and behavior.
PBS, the last bastion for truth in "freedom of the media." You are not intimidated by or corrupted by the government or corporate money. The New Untouchables! Congratulations! Well Done! Bring it On and Give us More!
A fine piece of work. One has to wonder how it is that the U.S. could broadcast Radio Free Europe or Radio Marti but we resist Al Jazeera broadcasting to the U.S. What's wrong with this picture?
A somewhat disappointing and uninspiring report on such a fascinating subject. No wonder PBS has a limited audience if this is the best they can do. The reporter sleep walked through the whole report, his voice over extremely boring. With the budget you had for this I expected a great deal more.
I find the subtitling "the Arab Media Revolution" misleading within the context of this piece. I would argue that the primary focus of this piece is the perception of America in the Middle East, with a secondary focus on 'the Arab media revolution'. It's ironic that Greg Barker points out the "American-centric" nature of American news and then goes on to waste much valuable time giving Centcom a place to air their views while only scanning the Arab Media. As long as Americans only see the Middle East in terms of Pro-American and Anti-American, they will be lost in their understanding of Arab politics.
I find this program very informative and your web site is excellent. I very much enjoyed reading the Arab Media Revolution something I always wanted to learn more about. Bravo Frontline!
I have not seen the documentary, but the article specifically states that U.S. satellite and cable companies have declined to carry Al Jazeera. This is not censorship by our government. It is a decision by the satellite and cable companies.
Moreover, I have access to Al Jazeera on the Internet, and read it quite often. The paper is very bias. It makes reference to how the United States has severed relations with Iran as if that was an evil act; but does not mention that Iran overran our embassy in Iran, and held our people hostage for over a year. Often, its articles are like that. They take an accusation, and print it as fact, but do not print all of the facts.
In one article on 17 April, it mentions that an Egyptian engineer who works at Egypt's nuclear energy agency has been charged along with two foreigners with spying for Israel. Apparently, Egypt is stepping up its nuclear research, and Israel is curious as to what, in particular it is up to.
According to Al Jazeera, Israeli agents had helped him to obtain a residency permit in Canada under a false name and found him a job in a bank. They say he was paid $56,000 to spy on expatriate Egyptians and Arabs in Canada and Turkey. It does not mention any spying in Egypt per se.
I expect that Israel is concerned that nations which are adversarial to her might build an Atom Bomb and blow her up, but Israel's concerns have never been mentioned by the paper.
I read it periodically to get an idea of what the Muslim world is reading. No wonder the Muslims hate us. According to some of the articles and posts that I have read in Al Jazeera, we are the puppets of Israel - the people of which eat babies.
Liviu Librescu, who gave his life to save others in the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech university, would probably qualify as a `baby eater' to these people because he is Jewish.
Most of American media is owned by Jewish extremist like Rupert Mordoch of Fox news. so there is no "Objective" media any where in the world, including PBS.
The best you can do is read both biases in aljazeera.net/English and may be PBS for American perspective.
Saratoga Springs, NY
I've been asking my local digital cable company, Time-Warner of Saratoga, NY, to carry BBC World and CBC Newsworld TV channels for a few years now without any reaction. I think this is an example of the problem shown in Greg Barker's piece. Consequently, I'm grateful to the Internet for keeping me in touch with how the global media perceive the US's foreign policy, and hope the executives at Time-Warner will watch this FRONTLINE/World program.
Al Jazeera is a television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. The original Al Jazeera channel was started in 1996. It initially launched as an Arabic news and current affairs television channel. Al Jazeera introduced a level of freedom of speech on TV that was previously unheard of in the Middle East. The station gained worldwide attention following the 9-11, when it broadcast video statements by Osama Bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda leaders. Al Jazeera is now a fairly mainstream media network, but it also stirs up more controversy then others.
I believe Al Jazeera is good for the world. This broadcasting system keeps the world updated on the current events in the Middle East and other foreign countries. Many Americans would be very lost and confused about what is occurring today in the world if it wasn't for Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is a trustworthy source of information and is more honest than the government or foreign television channels. As of 2007, the Arabic Al Jazeera channel had an audience of about 40 to 50 million. Al Jazeera in the U.S has an estimated reach of around 80 million households. Clearly people are watching and this channel is helping the citizens of American become educated with foreign affairs. I truly believe this should continue to air in the United States. If it doesn't continue many Americans would only end up clueless and less informed then they already are today.
Wall, New Jersey
I agree with our government's policy on not airing Al Jazeera. The first amendment of our Constitution grants us the right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and petition, and freedom of press. If Al Jazeera was based in the United States, the government couldn't do anything. However, Al Jazeera is based in Doha, Qatar. The federal government has control over importation and exportation of product in the country according to the Constitution. Al Jazeera is a news network and networks are considered product since they are created to make money. Therefore, it is completely legal for the United States government to ban Al Jazeera.
Second, Al Jazeera promotes terrorism and radical Islamists. Although the network would not be popular in mainstream American society, there will still be those who will agree with it and see the United States as an enemy. These people who agree with Al Jazeera will, most likely, use terrorism within our own borders to change our policy in international relations. The United States government wouldn't have wanted to air a Soviet network during the Cold War because of the possible spread of communism within America. So, the banning of Al Jazeera in the United States is meant to protect us from another terrorist attack from someone already living in the United States.
Here in the United States, media tends to sugarcoat information to be easier on the viewer. Sure some people prefer for their news to be presented to them in that manner, however most people want the news straight up, detail to detail. And if graphic footage is needed to get the full effect of the events then they want to see it. This is exactly what Al Jazeera does. This station shows almost everything "news wise" which appeals to the viewer's interests. Some may not agree with some of the things being covered, but Al Jazeera merely makes information available without comment on it. So when people disagree with the station, what they really may be disagreeing with is the real information. This is not the network's fault.
Some people are upset that the network broadcast Osama Bin-Laden defending and justifying the September 11th attacks. They felt that Al Jazeera was engaging in propaganda for terrorists. I do not agree with this justification at all. Whether this was aired publicly or not, the statements still would have been made. So why hide the truth from the public? There is no reason for it. I believe that our eyes need to be opened to things happening all over the world. I think that is one of the reasons why many people in our country are sheltered from outside things.
We have many stations here that alter the news to what they feel is appropriate. Al Jazeera, on the other hand, just provides the cold hard facts. I think that whoever banned this network from the U.S. may be scared off by these harsh realities and totally getting rid of this network seemed like the easiest way to keep some of these issues out of American peoples view. For example, Al Jazeera showed graphic images of inside Iraq and U.S. officials accused the network of being Anti-American and inciting violence. I do not agree. Sure the footage may be violent and graphic but that is what is occurring there every day. Don't we want to be provided with the truth? I know that seeing things that are really happening over there would give me the best knowledge of these situations, so that is what I want to see. I truly believe that officials want to hide many harsh truths from the public to limit public opinion on some of these issues. But, isn't the media's main objective to provide viewers with information that they cant see first-hand? So then why shouldn't we be able to see the things that Al Jazeera presents?
Sure some of the footage or stories are going to stir up some controversy but what news station doesn't. I believe that if the people of the United States want to see this station they should be provided with it. No one should be stopping them.
I wish such programs would show up more and more...we are in strong demand to understand how others live and what they think about many controversial issues. No doubt that having Al Jazeera English is a great service to the American public to see the other side of the coin. How knows!!
Keep it up Frontline
One thing that even FRONTLINE seems to be too timid to talk about is corporate control of the media. FRONTLINE talked about the pressure that corporations put on profit making but it didn't talk about the even more important issue of corporate editorial control. Think about it for a minute. Have you ever seen any of the corporate networks broadcast a very negative report of their parent companies? Has NBC ever criticised GE? Has ABC ever criticised Disney? Has FOX ever said a single bad word about Rupert Murdoch? Has CBS ever criticised Westinghouse? Has CNN ever criticised AOL-TimeWarner? No! Ask yourself then, why not? They tell us all the time that the companies that sign their paychecks don't interfere, but there are numerous examples where they have. ABC cancelled a report about paedophiles at Disney World. GE refused to fund an interview with Jane Fonda about the movie The China Syndrome, a movie which was highly critical of nuclear power (GE makes nuclear power plants).
Al Jezeera's main income, as stated in this film, is generated by providing people like Osama Bin Laden a voice (and therefore power). The excuse given is that there is some 'social context' to the messages. This is not acceptable. IE: To be a de-facto arm of a terrorist organization. We do not need more biased, targeted to specific audience messages out there. We need more truth and balance, as unattractive as it may be.
Congratulations on an excellent piece of journalism. As a member of the military formerly deployed in Iraq, I will attest that we had to use Al-Jazeera for much intel because it would show things that our own media either wouldn't or couldn't show. Obviously I'm not in agreement with many of the ideas broadcast on there, but It is critical that our nation be allowed to see this side of the Arab world, because many Americans do not understand what is going on there and how the people of the Middle East feel.
Of course it is somewhat biased, but also it is important to note that not ALL Arabs hate America and want our heads, but it is very important to understand just how bad our foreign policy and military actions have been. Sadly enough, until the American public understands how bad we have hurt our image in the Middle East, then our current administration will not change their failing tactics. Maybe it will force their hand to try at least SOME diplomacy with these countries rather than brute force alone.
We have been using heavy handed politics with the Middle East since the formation of Israel after WWII, and as a result, have been increasingly disliked throughout the Arab world. If we as a nation do not want to use diplomacy and at least attempt a somewhat unbiased stance in that region, then we are only making the situation worse by being there at all.
And Lastly, I would like to say for the record that the major failure in Iraq is due to the heads in the Pentagon and the White House, NOT the Military, Some of the greatest (and most ignored sadly) advice about how to conduct this "war" has come from our generals and top brass IN Iraq. We can only do so much if our feedback and/or advice falls on deaf ears.
West Kingston, RI
It's an outrage that Al Jazeera is not available on cable here in the U.S. It's readily available in the UK, as a competitor to the BBC, with absolutely no outcry. What are we afraid of here in the U.S.?
When and how did we get to a place where we began seeing the press as our enemy? Have we forgotten what the press's mission is? A lot of the content of what passes for news has turned me off at times as it has for many. That still doesn't make the press our enemy. It is probably more of an indictment of us as a society than of the press itself. I still get news from all outlets and read a newspaper, at least one, each day. I was brought up to believe that staying informed was something I had to do as a free thinking person and as an American. No matter how much we may not like some of its methods and end products, we rely on the press to keep their eyes on the world and then to tell us what they have observed. I can't imagine America without that.
I am not a journalist but this report was done very professionally. I noticed how the interviewer would not put statements into the mouths of his subjects but let things play out meanwhile talking to more than one side. This is the difference between politicized reporting and the closest a journalist can come to being "neutral" in my humble opinion.
Secondly, i really think letting Americans see Aljazeera is not going to hurt America but will strengthen it - we will be better informed about other points of view and be able to make better decisions which i think is the strength of a real democracy. I don't think America is so weak in its core values that it will fall apart if it sees other forms of reporting biased against America though they may be. However, it will create a demand in this country for real leadership and that may not be in the best interest of the current powers that be.
Not so in-depth/investigative on this last piece of the series, but it raises important questions of freedom of speech, press and democracy in general. Which is great! Indeed, like all media it was bias. But a bias for journalistic ethics, values of free speech and dialogue quintessential components of democracy!! If the US is to survive its own democratic decay (in this regard), let alone "export" democracy we must recall our own history and values as they were discussed by our founding fathers. Most disturbing in this regard are comments ridiculing the challenging questions toward those in power, either Arab or Western/American. We have completely betrayed our founding fathers' idea for patriotism: a questioning of government and power; ambition checking ambition...it's the understanding of freedom that runs throughout our government, but sadly it is decaying where it matters most in the minds of the people. Now patriotism is understood as its arch enemy the loyalist.
Moreover, a push toward rhetoric and punditry to capitalize on a politically frustrated US citizenry sounds the death knell of democracy when it means self censorship of other perspectives of power and government.
Thankfully Frontline, has started this discussion, but I am afraid myself and other Americans don't have the courage to fight for our democracy, At least not in this way. Wars, no problem, but direct engagement in democracy on our own turf to reclaim the virtues and values of democracy as a culture may be asking too much courage in the battle for democracy. This could be more of a disaster for true democracy than communism or the cold war.
But if we can where do we turn how do we organize to revive it? How can Frontline and other media address this issue practically to provide public forums of dialogue? Does Frontline have a strategy for this new "role" of journalism that has threatened its classical understanding in the US and in the Middle East?
Thanks for the whole series, which I watched completely on-line. Your series reinforced in this retired Air Force officer a fear for our country. There appears to be an ever increasing, highly sophisticated effort to manipulate public opinion. I'm not sure that the nuevo American public is up to the task of maintaining American values that we inherited a few centuries ago from a bunch of British white guys. Now let me see if I can find Aljazeera English TV.
Dr. Mervin Rhamm, Ph. D.
San Francisco, CA
Another outstanding presentation by your staff. Keep up the good work. We need to learn about news from foreign sources in order to know what and how the rest of the world thinks about us!
I'm glad to know about Aljazeera English. Frankly I don't expect American media to be anywhere near objective about the Middle East. Frankly I find the idea of Al Hurra laughable. Not that I expect Aljazeer to be objective either but at least I won't just have one distorted side. -- KS
Why don't you (Frontline World site) have a direct link button to Al Jazeera English Web site? The AJE manager said they are targeting all English speaking people. Why can't we get to their Web site without paying a subscription fee? Anyone please answer. Thanks.
Toronto, ON Canada
What an insightful show ... it beautifully captured the many perspectives that are outside of American reality. It reminded me of Control Room which was made at the beginning of the Iraq War. Here in Canada, a decision was rendered by the CRTC not to allow Al Jazeera English here either. I have no doubt that our politicians are 'protecting' Us from the 'evil' network in order to placate George Bush and his 'war on terror'. Thank heavens, there are people in place to save us from alternative perspectives.
Excellent and thought-provoking show. Somewhat reminded me of the documentary "Control Room" which talks about how differently the US and Arab media outlets covered the US invading Afghanistan.
The basic takeaway from the movie is that you cannot believe 100% of what you see on US newscasts, nor can you believe 100% of what you see on Arab newscasts.
But you need to have access to both to understand both sides. Banning Al Jazeera English in the US is limiting our understanding of the world, only allowing us to have easy access to US media Government Issue propaganda.
By the way, some comments below talk about only being able to access Al Jazeera English in the US with some hefty fees, but if it appears from their web site that you can subscribe online for $5.95 / mo.
Chapel Hill, NC
I'm moving to Sandusky "Land of the free"
An article published Saturday, March 10, 2007, says that Buckeye CableSystem is adding Al Jazeera English for its customers.
"War of Ideas" delves into some of the details of the Al Manar broadcasting station, an organization that was designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the U.S. Department of Treasury on March 23, 2006. There is currently a legal case in New York involving two men, Javad Iqbal (a lawful permanent American resident) and Saleh Elahwal (a U.S. Citizen), who contracted in Lebanon to broadcast Al Manar (they exchanged money with the organization in exchange for the network feed before it was designated a terrorist organization) and were subsequently arrested for providing material support or resources to a terrorist organization. One statute they are accused of violating, 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b), includes in its definition of "material support or resources" the provision of communications equipment. They each face up to 110 year in prison. Al Manar is apparently affiliated with Hezbollah, a claim in the indictment against Iqbal and Elahwal and seemingly backed up by this Frontline report, and Al Manar's broadcasts are anti-American and anti-Israeli in nature. Hezbollah has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Secretary of State on October 8, 1997. My question is: Does the First Amendment's Freedom of Speech or of the Press extend to the actions of these two men?
To not allow al Jazeera English to "air" in the U.S., we aren't allowing another point of view to exist. Remember, professional American journalists were hired to work for their network, so how slanted would their coverage be and why is this administration so afraid of opinions of people who do not exactly support their worldview? Censorship indeed.
Walla Walla, WA
Why are Americans so afraid of al-Jazeera? I thought Americans wanted freedom of speech in the Arab World. This is what it looks like folks! Why aren't Americans equally critical of Fox news?
The reactions on this site demonstrate the insecurity of the American public that free and open media sources are not welcome because they just might reveal something about American foreign policy that you may not want to know. I suggest that those who are skeptical about al-Jazeera read it online and judge it for themselves. Some of the articles are variations of AP reports used by Fox, CNN and other news corporations. You might be surprised at how balanced it is next to the most popular new/infotainment reporting in the United States. I can promise you, they are not reporting on Anna Nicole.
One of the things that the program did not emphasize enough is that 1. No one watches al-Hurra (the American produced news in Arabic) in the Middle East. Americans would like to believe that they do, but its propaganda is just too transparent. 2. That particular factions of the Lebanese government back all of the news stations in Lebanon. So, for instance, al-Mustaqbal (Future TV) is Sunni backed, LBC is Maronite Christian and al-Manar is Hezbollah and so on. The consumers of news in Lebanon know this and can select favorite stations based on sect, but more often, favorite programs win out.
An example of this is the ever-popular Superstar (Arab American idol), which is aired on al-Mustaqbal and is widely viewed. This kind of popularity should be an indication that not all Arabic language channels are supporting terrorism, as al-Jazeera has been accused of, especially since a lot of the programming like "Superstar" and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" are based on American programs.
This was an excellent and much needed story that I hope will have an impact and helps bring more world news to the US. We have been living in a polluted and isolated news bubble here for too long. It has led to a nation of far too many "Good Germans" or, perhaps more to the point, "Good Christians" who are totally misled in their beliefs, despite their often even good intentions.
Thanks for all your hard work and courage in the face of the current horrors. It is only thru communication that we will thrive and evolve as a human family. Peace.
In response to some of these letters - the Arab media reflect the cultures they come from, where repression, scapegoating, and in some cases slavery, are the rule. What do you want next, Hezbollah's al-Manar preaching jihad in your living room?
League City, Texas
I find it most deterring that I cannot get Al Jazeera online at all here. I have to pay large fees to just subscribe to it. Even if I were to do that it plays on a very horrible online platform.
san antonio, tx
This was an excellent piece. The closing neatly captured the irony in how Americans who pride themselves on the "freedoms" we enjoy in the US oppose educating and/or exposing our citizenry to other points of view. They have swallowed the official line that the rest of the world distrusts and dislikes us because of our "freedoms."
The strongest testimony for free press was offered by the American Army colonel who supported Al Jazeera being aired in the United States. I don't agree with every news story on PBS, CNN, Fox, BBC, or other networks but they should have a right to state their case.
Al Jazeera is a watershed for the Arab media and a first attempt at freedom of the press for a billion Muslims around the globe. Moreover, it is a brilliant business plan with a rapidly growing viewer ship.
I was extremely disappointed to hear White House propaganda coming from the mouths of the people who sounded like they could be working for Faux Snooze. Worse, the CENTCOM person revealed the US propaganda office is in Dubai - the same place where Halliburton is relocating!
Yes, the US has an image problem. Our "leaders" have lied to everyone so often we have no credibility left in the world, as in none, zero, zilch (except for the 29% of people in this nation who still seem to approve of Bush, even after his lies have been proven as such). Fixing our image problem can't be done until Bush stops ordering war crimes done in our names (the invasion of Iraq s a war crime under the Geneva Conventions), torture done in our names, and closes the prison camps at Gitmo. Propaganda saying we're a good nation when everyone else in the world knows the truth just makes us look like fools. Repeating White House lies doesn't make the truth go away....
On the whole, for PBS-Frontline to do the same job as Fox makes your credibility factor plummet. If I wanted to listen to propaganda, I'd unblock Fox on my remote. I know you can do better. Please go back to higher broadcasting standards.
How about doing a program itemizing and deconstructing the lies and crimes of the Bush administration and making a case for impeachment...? And stop saying they "mislead" us! They didn't mislead anyone with an IQ above a rock. They LIED to us, and then lied to cover the original lies!
I have been asking Dish Network (Echostar) to carry Al Jazeera English ever since I heard it was going to be launched.
Frontline/World today revealed that it was not merely a lack of interest or competence, but a response to an active anti-free-speech conspiracy led by "Accuracy in Media" that persuaded Dish and other U.S. media monopoly outlets refusing to carry Al Jazeera English.
I called Dish (again) tonight to request AJ English; as usual they said they would "pass your comments to my supervisor."
Does anyone have any constructive ideas for making AJ English available in the U.S.? Perhaps persuading Moveon.org to take up the issue and have a call-in day to Dish, DirecTV, Time-Warner, and AT&T?
Thanks for a very informative show. A job well done. It got me thinking about the time I was in the Air Force and the orientation of Communism and why we are fighting their cause, and if we didn't we might live in a country that if we were to say something negative about our Government the KGB would come to our homes and arrest us and we would be in prison or worse. How they would listen in on our phone conversations for anything that was said about the Government, and how to speak out in public against the Government could result in prison.
I think about all the brave men and women who lost their lives to preserve our freedom and our right to Free Speech. But, what is Free Speech without freedom of thought? And how can your thoughts be the result of good judgment without freedom of information?
I think that our Airways on which stations broadcast are Public domain and hence the subject thereon be decided by the people. After all this is a Democracy isn't it?
Again thank you for being the only source of NEWS.
Why is al Jazeera English being censured? What do the grass root Americans think?
The solution to this is included in the Citizen Amendments to the United States Constitution. They can be viewed at www.citizenamendments.org.
NORMANDO DE HALLE'
THANKS. GREAT PROGRAMMING. IT IS ONLY FAIR TO ALLOW AL JAZEERA/ENGLISH OR ANY OTHER NEWS ORGANIZATION TO AIR THEIR VIEWS ON THE EVENTS OF THE WORLD. IT IS BECAUSE OF THIS TYPE OF HYPOCRACY WE ARE VIEWED BY THE REST OF THE WORLD IN A NEGATIVE MANNER. WE CONTINUALLY STATE THAT THERE IS "FREEDOM OF SPEECH" BUT FORBID ANYONE TO STATE THEIR POSITION IF IT IS DIFFERENT THAN WHAT WASHINGTON WANTS. AS AMERICANS WE CAN MAKE UP OUR OWN MINDS AS TO THE VALIDITY OF WHAT IS PRESENTED.
Thank you for a great program. As an Arab American I was puzzled by the American officials who are working to improve the American image in the Arab world.These officials so misunderstand the Arab World and have negative attitude toward Arabs. I wonder what is their background, that made them so incapable of understanding the issues especially ,those living in the Arab World. I hate to pay them any salary from my tax money.
Josï¿½ Alejandro Amorï¿½s
Grand Rapids, Michigan
There are no journalists in jail in Cuba? They don't count? Isn't Chavez restricting freedom of the Press in Venezuela? I guess not. Interesting.
I was impressed with your coverage of US standards- showing the absence of freedom of speech in America, which is reflective of the growing march to isolationism within the current administration.
During the Vietnam War it was the Mike Wallaces and Ed Bradleys' that brought us a horrific view of events in Indo-China. Americans said enough. It was national TV coverage that aided, (or forced) our transition into a segregated society during the civil rights era.
Where are these just FREEDOMS that we are supposedly instilling upon the world community and the population of Iraq? Do as I say, don't do as I do; With all the censoring "systems" now evident within our liberated society we are becoming the laughingstock of this decade on a global scale.
Lastly, I thank you for your courage and coverage of an issue that truly affects us daily. There is no true way to sugar coat a war!
New York, New York
After watching the program, I felt compelled to look at Al-Jazeera's English website. I read a few of the headlines and didn't find anything particularly subversive or "pro-terrorist". Why this station isn't being carried by any cable provider is beyond me. People offended by Al-Jazeera could simply avoid watching it, much like I avoid watching Fox News.
Simply barring it does a disservice to the population. On a side note, I am European, and one of things that struck me about news in the US is how insular it is. International news barely get the time they deserve, whereas stories like Anna Nicole's Death get all the air time. I think news should be driven by the need to educate the population and not to sell commercial time.
Thank you, for bringing attention to the lack of information available in standard US media on Arab and Muslim views on world affairs. I was so disappointed when the US declined to carry al Jazeera English. I do not agree with everything that might be reported by that station, but I do not think ignoring what most of the world can see is the solution. I hope your report will help change the climate of American media. I know I would welcome such a shift.
I say it is not a crime to see what other nations are saying about The United States of America. Indeed it is our duty as citizens of this nation to be aware of our place in the world. Beware state issued blinders. Now is no time to become comfortable. Beware of business as usual. Eyes open, heads up, approach each day as if your life depended on your awareness- because it does.
Arlington Hts., Il 60005
Thanks for your program. I am from of pre-boomer generation. I have lived through some mind-boggling times. Heard from my parents about WW II and the Europe it was fought in. I saw first hand growing up as a child in the late 40' early 50'the Germany of the Occupiers. The compromises made then resulted in the dialogues needed to have Europe become what it is today. What it is becoming in this century should be a guide to our understanding of Nationality, Spiritual and Social acceptance and the Humanity of all on this earth.
The Middle East deserves this opportunity too.
Every week I wait for Frontline, now that I have been "Hooked". Your coverage is first class, eye opening and most of all, insightful, contemplative. You have helped to form my understanding of our present situation along with other media that should be open and forthright with its public. It is a legacy we cannot afford to give up.
We must hold all our civil servants accountable as they function in our stead.
I was appalled by your story on the Arabic media. Sending a non Arabic-speaking reporter who confessed he did not understand what he was watching to study the Arabic media is bad enough; that he then simply recycled the administration's knee jerk responses is unforgivable. Fox could not do better.
What we need is to try to understand other's points of view, not to censor them. And we claim to have a free press!
State College, PA
The Lebanese Patriotic Party, as well as the "Orange TV" that broadcasts its views, seems to have been overlooked by the reporter Greg Barker in "War of ideas".
He portrayed the political divide in Lebanon as pro-government on one side and the pro-Hezbollah on the other. You might think I am just another middle easterner blindly rooting for her run-of-the-mill Middle Eastern party, but I am worried about the reasonable side of Lebanon that is omitted when the Patriotic Party is left out of a media report. Once, an Indian friend told me that unless an American sees a "broken roof", they don't consider their travel experience authentic; he noticed this when his American friends who were visiting India were not satisfied with sights of the Taj Mahal or developed cities in India, and wanted to see signs of poverty! I get the impression that American reporters avoid the Lebanese Patriotic Party for the same reason. It's too unexpected; it doesn't fit the stereotype, which makes it not "authentic," for some.
The Lebanese Patriotic Party initiated by Michel Aoun in 1989 is unlike any cliché because it defends secularism in Lebanese politics, rejects sectarianism, has campaigned against the Syrian occupation until its end in 2005, and convinced Hezbollah to sign an understanding of disarmament. The latter achievement was undone by the Lebanese government's apathy as to disarming the party, and also insuring that the Lebanese citizens who are members of Hezbollah a fair representation in the Lebanese government, so as to not provoke their creating of a government within a government. While political parties have played on fabricated sectarian divides to earn power, the Lebanese Patriotic Party leader, Michel Aoun, denounced sectarian problems in 1989 as a political manipulation, which helped prolong 2 occupation forces at the time, Syria and Israel. By doing so, he uncovered a strong national sentiment in the Lebanese population.
I was among those who marched in uplifting peaceful marches, to support his call for the withdrawal of all occupation forces and our right for democratic elections in Lebanon. We printed bumper stickers saying, "My religion is Lebanon" and wore pendants in the shape of the map of Lebanon, to undo the embarrassing stigma that we are backward, and divided by religion. Michel Aoun was driven to exile by the Syrians in 1991, from where he lead peaceful campaigns, supported by Lebanese citizens all over the world, until the exit of Syria in 2005, several years after the exit of Israel. This exit may have been the result of a political strategies planned indifferently to the future of Lebanese democracy, but its results can be a true Lebanese democracy. A current government, made of simply re-labeled ex-Syrian puppets, is not allowing true democratic elections to take place.
Arcane ideals, such as having "Sunnites" or "whatever-ites" in power, and others not, get in the way of the modern, just and secular government that the Lebanese Patriotic Party aims for. Among those muscled out of the government, because of an arcane rivalry still relevant to the government today, are Hezbollah. Michel Aoun has appealed to all political party to be loyal to Lebanon first and not allow for illegally armed groups. Hezbollah seems to have sympathized with the appeal at least, and signed an understanding of disarmament with the Lebanese Patriotic Party.
The Lebanese government snubbed this attempt to disarm Hezbollah. This took place months before the gruesome Israeli attack on Lebanon. Progress within Lebanon was none of their concerns, it seems. Their stay in power, apparently supported by the US, did not require approval from the Lebanese population, or necessitate any achievements towards stability and progress in Lebanon. This left the Patriotic party, Hezbollah, and all Lebanese citizens insisting on a true democracy at a dead end, especially when the apathetic government's attitude towards Hezbollah, and Israel, lead to yet another armed conflict.
The divide in Lebanon today is political, not religious, and that much is positive. Anyone who labels us by our religion is ignoring our ability to think, and make political choices. In any case, on one side of the divide, there are re-labeled ex-members of the government once supporting the Syrian occupation, for years. It has driven the country into economic death, failed to end conflicts with Israel, and muscles part of the population out of the government. On the other there are Hezbollah, as well as the Lebanese Patriotic Party. This party has its refreshing ideals on secularism, individual rights, and even issues such as the lack of professionalism in the Middle East, an issue hardly mentioned by any Middle Eastern demagogue. I hope you won't confuse enthusiasm for what this party represents, and my dismay for its omission from Greg Barker's report, as demagogy. It's an appeal for fair representation in the US media, as it covers Lebanon and the Middle East.
I use Al-Jazeera news every day to get uncensored views. If we are a free nation then we shouldn't have Rupert Murdoch or anyone in government dictating what we can see or hear. Without the Internet, we have no choices and only hear the spin of the neocons. This is a dictatorship sadly to say. Our congress is not carrying the wishes of the American people. Seems there is only one party melded together.... OIL
Typically disgraceful left wing trash. Hearing those officers defend Al Jazeera saying it should be broadcast in the states about made my head blow off.
Of course the left (that means you Frontline) would never make judgments about the terrorists and their defenders in the Muslim world which number in the hundreds of millions. There wouldn't be hundreds of millions of them if it wasn't America's fault.
myna lee johnstone
Biased toward the US. Don't you remember the FOX censorship of journalists stories?
Why are Americans not getting Al jazeera?
Saint Louis, Missouri
This is outstanding work. And people of good will truly want to thank Frontline World for a job well done on this story.
I hope Al Jazeera English and France 24 will also one day be seen broadcast on American Television. At this time I watch them both faithfully with a profound and intense focus on all the stories that they are reporting.
Thanks again Frontline for a job well done. I will be keeping up with the stories more often here. One of my other favorites is NOW on PBS.
Gary from St. Louis
Wichita Falls, TX
Fantastic coverage of the modern practices of journalism, news coverage in the global context. Extremely relevant to the U.S.
Keep up the great work!
The host nation of Al Jazeera is called, phonetically, "Kotter", not "Kataar". Your Egyptian-American informer called it by a mix of the two pronunciations, favoring the reporter's misapprehension. Here you have a valuable lesson.