Feb 1 2012

Letters to the Editor

February 2012

The Shadow of Al Jazeera

It’s a bit ironic that FAIR chooses to explore the American blackout on Al Jazeera English (Extra!, 12/11) now that the network is becoming a shadow of its former self. Your article itself (in a sidebar) notes how AJE not only altered coverage of the Iraq War under American pressure, but has consistently downplayed the resistance in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, right in line with the wishes of the U.S. government. What you didn’t note was AJE’s even more egregious coverage of Libya, where the network’s campaign of mis- and disinformation played a key role in drumming up Western support for the NATO assault.

Just as ironic, your article seems to tout the fact that AJE has been forced to distribute its content for free on the net, a “business model” which has hardly proved viable, and one which will only force AJE to be even more dependent on the Sultan of Oman than before.

For real news reporting independent of U.S. government pressure, there are only two networks worth watching these days (both on the net, of course): RT (formerly Russia Today) and PressTV. RT in particular not only covers events in countries like Bahrain, Libya, Iran or Syria with a point of view independent of the U.S. government, but has also featured daily, extensive coverage of the Occupy movement here in the U.S., on both their news programming as well as their news/commentary shows. RT’s Alyona Show stands out as probably the most interesting and informative hour being broadcast today, head and shoulders above Keith Olbermann’s Countdown or the Rachel Maddow Show, to name but two.

Eli Stephens

Left I on the News

Cupertino, Calif.

Closed Isn’t Always Bad

A pretty good article on Steve Jobs (12/11), but I disagree with Apple computers being a closed system as a bad thing. They had better control over the programs run on the Apple, and that’s why it was better than the near anarchy of the way Windows worked, or didn’t. The fact that an Apple computer didn’t even need antivirus, compare that to Windows machines. That Mac OS was based on Unix helped too, no doubt, but the closed system was the key.

Jeff Thompson

Minneapolis, Minn.

Calling the Kettle Black

I could not help noticing the juxtaposition in the January 2012 issue of the “Fighting Big, Bad Media” banner on the back cover and the article inside (“Islamophobia Still Rising—With the Right’s Help”) decrying “campaigns that attempt to demonize Islamic-American institutions.”

If FAIR wants to use the demonizing technique to whip up support for its cause, that is up to FAIR. But if it does, then it needs to come down off its high horse when talking about other groups (“the anti-Muslim network”) who are doing the same thing.

What’s that you say—Muslims are undeserving victims of a baseless smear campaign, while Big Media is objectively bad? Sorry, demonizing is demonizing, and if it truly wants to see less of this in the world, one very effective measure FAIR can take is to refrain from the practice in its solicitations and its reporting.

David Baldwin

Pawtucket, R.I.