Indeed, in hundreds of conversations with AJE executives and staff since its launch, I have rarely heard anyone complaining of an unseen hand skewing coverage. And the political skew that colors some stories on Al Jazeera Arabic seems largely absent from Al Jazeera English.

The likely reason: the emir of Qatar is a savvy guy. He wants Al Jazeera English to do for him on a global scale what Al Jazeera Arabic has done for him in the region: make him a player. If Al Jazeera English is seen as a mouthpiece, his money will have been wasted.

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Lawrence Pintak is founding dean of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University; a former CBS News Middle East correspondent; and creator of the free online Poynter course, Covering Islam in America. His most recent book is The New Arab Journalist: Mission and Identity in a Time of Turmoil.