Another “Big” Interview

Hillary Clinton just gave an interview_with_Al_Arabiya.  I still don’t understand  the lack of interviews with Al-Jazeera.  There’s simply no way of getting around the fact that Al-Jazeera is the top dog in Arabic media.   If you want to reach the Arab street and be given any sense of credibility you have to face tough questions on Al-Jazeera.  Do her advisers understand this?   There are logical reasons why the President might confine himself to a soft-ball interview on pro-US Al-Arabiya but this shouldn’t apply to lower ranking officials in the administration.

7 Responses

  1. For real.

    In Jordan for example, a recent survey by the Univeristy of Jordan showed that 60% turned to Al-Jazeera to follow the 2008 US presidential elections, 14% depended on Jordanian TV, 13% on Al-Arabiya Channel, and 6% on MBC channels.

  2. Is it possible that the US Gov. and other interest groups want to give a boost to Al-Arabiyya?

  3. John — Seems very likely, doesn’t it? Al-Jazira can’t compete with these interviews. On the other hand, it’s probably not helping al-Arabiya credibility-wise to be seen as the official broadcaster of White House interviews, but I guess they’e mostly interested in getting viewership up. (Coming to think of it, al-Jazira used the early Osama tapes the same way 🙂

  4. John, I think your giving them too much credit. I think its more general ignorance and incompetence versus any well thought out plan to boost Al Arabiya

  5. I’m sure that in the war of ratings, Aljazeera can find ways of jabbing the competition. Maybe Aljazeera Arabic won’t interview members of the US government but their English speaking channel sure gets those exclusives. Aljazeera English is giving CNN International, for instance, a good bashing. By the same token, I have to say that programs like Min Washington, with Abdurraheem Fuqara, are excellent and have guests from all backgrounds.

    Finally, Al-Arabiyya doesn’t openly say it is pro US. And, for commercial reasons, I don’t think it will. Just look at Al-Hurra (Al- What???). Yeah, just what I thought. Long since forgotten. Hence, interviews of political heavyweights will not be bad for it. But these channels (especially CNN) are going to have to back to the strategy board and think of something quick.

    The last crisis in Gaza, as I see it, was a also a major battle ground for the networks with Al-Jazeera (Arabic and English) coming out the winners and the BBC (Arabic) coming in a distant second place. BBC Arabic was in Gaza, weren’t they?

  6. It’s pretty rare for US politicians to do interviews where the questions are genuinely hard, perhaps because of the likelihood that at least one party will end up scathed. Helen Thomas was relegated to the back row of the White House press corps after upsetting Bush 43 with her “Why did you REALLY invade Iraq?” question, and the Irish reporter who upset him a few years ago essentially became persona-non-grata as the White House went into panic mode. Bill Clinton did an interview with Amy Goodman in 2000, and his upset, frustrated response to her questions is now all over youtube. Neither Bill nor Hillary have gone on Democracy Now! since then, as far as I was able to tell through Google-ing.

    So, if tough questions from within the US are too tough, I think there’s even less hope for a difficult interview with Al-Jaziira.

    This is what we call “the filter”.

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