When Al Jazeera began in 1996, there were few broadcast news presentations in the Middle East that were not state-run. Cable options were limited to CNN, which was already taken on an American slant, and the BBC World Service, which was having trouble keeping its Middle East bureaus running because of censorship. The time was ripe for Al Jazeera to fill a gap in the market for regional and international news free from the ruling-party propaganda of countries like Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. Over the years, by maintaining their fierce editorial independence while reporting on some of the most repressive regimes in the world, Al Jazeera has made many enemies. At no time, however, was their position more at risk than when the
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It’s striking to watch Control Room seven years down the road, with Bush and his friends out of power and shamed for their now well-known abuses of power and shameful management of the truth. Al Jazeera was intentionally bombed by the US on multiple occasions; the US even considered bombing their Doha offices. Al Jazeera’s journalists around the world were discredited and some had their press permits revoked in a campaign of what can only be called censorship.
Despite what is know today, when I talk to Americans about Al Jazeera, their opinions are mostly unchanged since the start of the war. In many ways, Al Jazeera was, however, ahead in of its time in 2003 by publicly questioning and reporting on the United State’s motivation in starting war in Iraq and the atrocities the White House and Pentagon later tried to sweep under the rug: the kind of news that wasn’t being reported through the filter of embedded journalists at other major news outlets. Where Al-Jazeera sometimes failed, as was very eloquently captured in the documentary, was in occasionally separating their personal anger towards the United States government from their coverage and often feeding too much in to existing audience anger. There’s a part of