Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ok So While We're At It - Another Depressing Thing

Here in gay Paree, now that we are connected to The Internets through all those Big Tubes, we also have access to amazingly diverse television. So Bart and I have done something that we have not done in many, many years:

We look forward to watching the news every night.

OK, everyone can get up off the floor now.

I'm not talking about French news, although I'm sure it's better than American news (anything is) but I'm not fluent in French yet so I can't really comment on it. And I'm not talking about BBC World News. I'm talking about Al Jazeera. Yes, the BBC has partnered with Al Jazeera and created a news service that outperforms all other news services in the world, in my not-so-fucking-humble opinion.

For at least a year or so I have been checking out Al Jazeera online to try and sift through the incredible fluff or laziness or plain old bullshit lies of the US news or get a different viewpoint or, most of the time, read about major news that was never covered at all in the US. But I had never seen the TV version of Al Jazeera. The online version was not perfect and I observed some bias and some extremism here and there. But the TV news is a whole different story.

Big Surprise: Most US broadcasters have not allowed Al Jazeera in the US. Only a few people in New York (you know, those fucking terrorists) can get the channel.

Well. The TV version is just amazing. I have been wanting to write about it for weeks. But I wanted to really pay attention, really understand what it was, exactly, that made Al Jazeera superior. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Here are some preliminary observations:

  • They haven't made the arrogant assumption that people are stupid and have the attention span of gnats and therefore don't want any in-depth coverage. Al Jazeera goes deep into the story. They interview everybody. They show footage. They ask tough questions. No more mere sound bytes. In-depth reporting! What a concept!
  • I never realized the incredible DEARTH (love that word) of actual images in the American press of real Middle Eastern people living their lives. I imagine that most Americans think that all people in the Middle East wears long robes and turbans, are bare-footed, live in huts with dirt floors and brandish machine guns on a whim. Au contraire mon ami. These people have homes, electricity, cars (nice ones), cell phones, hip clothes, bars, restaurants, etc. (Oh I'm sorry, that's not exactly accurate. About 4 or 5 million of them had to leave all that behind and are refugees with nothing to their name right now but that's beside the fucking point.)
  • Al Jazeera shows the actual ravages of war. Not like the US news in their staged little bytes with some puffy-assed Republican senators strolling through a marketplace wearing goofy little sun hats (and he's from my own state I am ashamed to say) while a gaggle of 75 soldiers hides in the background, after they had spent the whole morning clearing the place of real Iraqis and then sticking some brown-faced friendlies in there for authenticity. Oh and make sure those brown-faced people look stupid and poor and in desperate need of our amazing Neocon guidance and oil-stealing munificence, ok?
  • Instead of interminable hours of US pundits blah-blahing, Al Jazeera actually interviews real people that are involved locally in the issues. All these people that we've never heard of but who are extremely involved and knowledgeable about the situation on the ground.
I'm sorry I have to stop. There are probably at least 10 more bullet points of positives about Al Jazeera. But I realized I am using the word Fuck quite a bit because the REAL reason I am writing this post is because I read this headline recently which took all of this new lovely happiness away from me:

Is Al Jazeera about to Become Al-Foxeera?

Yes, this is an Alternet article based on a article that says that the Neocons are doing exactly what they have done in the US government - put one of their own guys into every government organization who is actually an active hater of that organization and who's chief aim is to destroy the organization from the inside out. So now the board of Al Jazeera is headed up by an American. And there is internal strife. The journalists are pissed. I hope they revolt. I hope they win. But the bottom line is that Al Jazeera's chief funding comes from a big cheese Emir in Qatar and he wants all those big American bucks and so we're fucked.

Back to the fetal position. Meanwhile, if you aren't lucky enough to live in New York, you can join the YouTube Al Jazeera channel here. Then you can at least see some of the content. Not all of it is stellar. David Frost sounds drunk and can't read a teleprompter very well but at least he's a Sir. ?