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The American public is starved for actual news. The conservative propaganda mill that masquerades as fox news is the premier example of a society that is becoming insular and uncritical of its policy and place in the world.  For a country that purports to value the idea of freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas, the US certainly seems to define Al-Jazzera outside the acceptable limits of discourse for the public.

“The network has been targeted by the US government since 2003, when former vice president Dick Cheney and former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld described it as tantamount to an arm of al-Qaeda.

Two of its reporters were later killed in Baghdad when US missiles hit its office. Al Jazeera and others voiced suspicions that the channel’s reporters had been deliberately targeted.

And, to this day, Al Jazeera, which, together with BBC News, has become one of the premier global outlets for serious television news, is virtually impossible to find on televisions in the US.

The country’s major cable and satellite companies refuse to carry it – leaving it with US viewers only in Washington, DC and parts of Ohio and Vermont – despite huge public demand.”

Ah, that must be the market making the correct decision about the needs and wants of its consumers.  Or perhaps it is the politics that actually drive the market as a opposed to the cherished notion of supply demand.

“The station’s US push could hardly be more necessary – to Americans. By being denied the right to watch Al Jazeera, Americans are being kept in a bubble, sealed off from the images and narratives that inform the rest of the world.  Consider the recent scandal surrounding atrocity photos taken by US soldiers in Afghanistan, which are now available on news outlets, including Al Jazeera, around the globe.

In America, there have been brief summaries of the fact that Der Spiegel has run the story. But the images themselves – even redacted to shield the identities of the victims – have not penetrated the US media stream.  And the images are so extraordinarily shocking that failing to show them – along with graphic images of the bombardment of children in Gaza, say, or exit interviews with survivors of Guantanamo – keeps Americans from understanding events that may be as traumatic to others as the trauma of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Not surprising, as the forces of the status-quo do not need inflammatory images stirring up the population.  Seeing the actual face of American foreign policy and what it is responsible for might waken the good altruism in the American people and have them demand a stop to the atrocities committed in their name.

“For example, the leading US media outlets, including the New York Times, have not seen fit to mention that one of the photos shows a US soldier holding the head of a dead Afghan civilian as though it were a hunting trophy.

So, for America’s sake, I hope that Al Jazeera penetrates the US media market. Unless Americans see the images and narratives that shape how others see us, the US will not be able to overcome its reputation as the world’s half-blind bully.

Indeed, Egyptians are in some ways now better informed than Americans (and, as Thomas Jefferson often repeated, liberty is not possible without an informed citizenry). Egypt has 30 newspapers and more than 200 television channels.

America’s newspapers are dying, foreign news coverage has been cut to three or four minutes, at most, at the end of one or two evening newscasts, and most of its TV channels are taken up with reality shows.”

The people of America are good decent people, but are purposefully being kept in the dark about what their role in the world is and how their corporations and government are acting internationally.

“Americans have a hunger for international news; it is a myth that we can’t be bothered with the outside world. Maybe Americans will rise up and threaten to boycott their cable and satellite providers unless we get our Al Jazeera – and other carriers of international news.

We would then come one step closer to being part of the larger world – a world that, otherwise, will eventually simply leave us behind.”

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