Naomi Wolf: 'I Want My Al Jazeera'
"[F]or America's sake, I hope that Al Jazeera penetrates the US media market. Unless Americans see the images and narratives that shape how others see us, the US will not be able to overcome its reputation as the world's half-blind bully."
[T]o this day, Al Jazeera, which, together with BBC News, has become one of the premier global outlets for serious television news, is virtually impossible to find on televisions in the US.
The country's major cable and satellite companies refuse to carry it -- leaving it with US viewers only in Washington, DC and parts of Ohio and Vermont -- despite huge public demand. [...]
By being denied the right to watch Al Jazeera, Americans are being kept in a bubble, sealed off from the images and narratives that inform the rest of the world.
Consider the recent scandal surrounding atrocity photos taken by US soldiers in Afghanistan, which are now available on news outlets, including Al Jazeera, around the globe.
In America, there have been brief summaries of the fact that Der Spiegel has run the story. But the images themselves -- even redacted to shield the identities of the victims -- have not penetrated the US media stream.
And the images are so extraordinarily shocking that failing to show them -- along with graphic images of the bombardment of children in Gaza, say, or exit interviews with survivors of Guantanamo -- keeps Americans from understanding events that may be as traumatic to others as the trauma of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
For example, the leading US media outlets, including the New York Times, have not seen fit to mention that one of the photos shows a US soldier holding the head of a dead Afghan civilian as though it were a hunting trophy.
Not surprisingly, Wolf ignored the real reason why America's Obama-loving press chose not to show "Kill Team" images: it would make the current White House resident look bad.
By contrast, the Bush-hating media had difficulties finding enough air and print space to report what was going on in Abu Ghraib during the Iraq war.
But Wolf couldn't bring herself to make such an obvious conclusion and instead offered this truly preposterous one:
Egyptians are in some ways now better informed than Americans...[Al Jazeera reporter Ayman Mohyeldin's] analysis of the Egyptian revolution, and others in the region, is that the kind of globalized media to which Americans do not have full access created the conditions in which people could rise up to claim democracy.
He points out that, "People are aware of their rights from the internet, from satellite TV -- people are watching movies and reading bloggers. This was a revolution of awareness, based on access to fast-traveling information. The farmers, the peasants in Tahrir Square, were aware of their rights."
I guess in Wolf's view, though she wrote her piece for a web-based American news organization, she thinks Americans don't have internet or satellite TV and don't watch movies or read blogs.
But there's a far more delicious irony she badly missed as have most of the media in this country as they've marveled about the impact of the internet and social websites on uprisings in the Middle East: the same thing's happening right here in the United States.
It's called the Tea Party, and its roots are equally tied to non-conventional sources of information broadly defined as new media. From there, regular Americans across the fruited plain became aware of their rights, and that an entire political Party was engaged in a systematic process to strip such rights and liberties from them.
Despite the efforts by the Left and its old media minions to demonize and kill this uprising, it remade the Republican Party scoring an historic victory at the polls last November, and to this day is reshaping legislatures around the country particularly in Washington, D.C.
Unlike Wolf, these folks don't want their Al Jazeera. They believe their country is filled with enough news organizations spreading anti-American propaganda.
If that's what Wolf wants, she knows where to find it.