From the Hezbollah-backed Al Manar TV to the popular Al Jazeera satellite network, Arabic language media are “inexcusably biased,” complained Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently. “There is nothing you can do about it except try to counteract it.” That is what the U.S. did in 2004 by creating and funding Alhurra ("The Free One"), a 24-hour Arabic language television channel. Instead of serving as a regional beacon for journalistic independence, as its supporters claim, the station is now coming under fire for being just another Middle Eastern propaganda mouthpiece, only this time espousing the U.S. viewpoint. Who wins and who loses in this war of information? How do patriotism and prejudice play into what Arabs see on the air?
This Mosaic Special Report examines how different broadcasters in the Middle East, including Alhurra, report on the same stories. How do the underlying values, politics, and patriotism of each media channel impact on what you see on the screen? What role does journalistic integrity and professionalism play? How do the governments in each region affect the way news is reported? And finally, how can we better understand each other by watching the vastly different reports coming from each network? To find answers, we talk to the producers and journalists responsible for news coverage from the wide range of Arabic language networks - independent, state-sponsored, Islamic and now even U.S. backed.
This program originally aired in 2004 following the launch of Alhurra.
As’Ad Abukhalil is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Cal State Stanislaus and the author “The House of Bush and the House of Saud” and “Bin Laden, Islam, and America's New War on Terrorism.” Mr. AbuKhalil is also a frequent commentator for Al Jazeera TV.
Jon Alterman is the Director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Mr. Alterman has worked for the State Department and has just returned from the Middle East where he talked with many of the players in Arab TV.
Jamal Dajani is Director of Middle East Programming for Link TV. An Award-winning producer of MOSAIC: World News From the Middle East, Mr. Dajani has produced over 600 daily MOSAIC shows and specials and has participated in several other Link TV productions in an editorial capacity and as an analyst. He is a frequent guest on both local and national broadcast media.
Wendy Hanamura, host of MOSAIC Special Report —Arab Television: War of Information and other Link TV productions, has been a television journalist for CBS and NHK-Japan and has produced documentaries and current event programs for the last 20 years. Her work has been broadcast on PBS, CBS, Discovery Channel, and Link TV, including the documentary she produced about her father's experiences in the all-Japanese American 442nd Combat Team, "Honor Bound: A Personal Journey."