During the Democratic National Convention, I did some political commentary for Al Jazeera as well as MSNBC, CNN, Alhurra, TV Asahi, and others. But when in the Al Jazeera English booth, which they shared with a local Fox News affiliate, I saw then DNC Chair Howard Dean walk in. His staff had set him up for an interview on the Al Jazeera English Channel.
When he walked in though, I think he thought he was talking to Fox — and he seemed totally fine with that. When he realized it was Al Jazeera, he reeled out of there and fairly rudely.
(Note to Howard: Fox is not really, totally a news organization; Al Jazeera is.)
Now, whether it was General Stanley McChrystal when running the Afghanistan War or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, big political names are appearing on Al Jazeera — which also is kicking some tail in its addictive, mesmerizing, high quality coverage of the protests in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Al Jazeera’s English language viewership has increased by more than 2,500% since the protests began — and in my view, cable networks around the nation should be scrambling to get Al Jazeera into their stable of options for viewers. I watch Al Jazeera on Channel 275 on Comcast Digital.
Just today, at Foreign Policy, Hugh Miles has an excellent oped sorting out the “Al Jazeera effect” and how it’s role in portraying themes and visuals unleashed during these protests may be a regime leveler in the Middle East.
Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be running banner ads on the site that promote Al Jazeera — and will be doing so not just because TWN is getting good ad revenue — but also because I totally support what Al Jazeera is accomplishing today by building out a serious civil society platform that spans the Muslim and Arabic worlds like no other network.
— Steve Clemons