ABC News veteran Dave Marash worked as an anchor in Washington, DC, for Al Jazeera English when it launched. After he left, he criticized what he felt was the channel’s “stereotypical and shallow” coverage of the US. Today, he says, it has matured. Although he is troubled by the lack of “vigor and airtime” AJE has given the Bahrain story, Marash still agrees with Clinton that AJE is putting the American networks to shame. “I think that just as ten years ago CNN was the role model, and thirty years ago it was the BBC, today AJE is the model of television news coverage,” he says.

The fact that Bahrain largely dropped off AJE’s news lineup in early April was not lost on some AJE insiders. But Anstey insists it reflects nothing more than the press of events elsewhere.

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.