Al Jazeera coming to America: Controversial network ready to hit U.S. TV markets

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As a fugitive, bin Laden chose the station as his conduit for taunting the West with anti-America videos smuggled to Al Jazeera representatives. In Iraq, U.S. commanders and the Shiite majority charged its reporters with working with Sunni insurgents.

In 2005, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld accused the network of promoting terrorism and anti-Americanism.

“If anyone here lived in the Middle East and watched a network like Al Jazeera day after day after day, even if you were an American, you would begin to believe that America was bad,” Mr. Rumsfeld said. “Quite honestly, I do not get up in the morning and think that America is what’s wrong with the world. The people that are going on television, chopping off people’s heads is what’s wrong with the world. And television networks that carry it and promote it and are Johnny on the spot every time there’s a terrorist act are promoting it.”

Yet Mr. Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. policymakers sat down for lengthy interviews with Al Jazeera after deciding that it was better to try to use the network to reach the Arab world even if doing so raised its stature.

On covering the U.S.

If Al Jazeera English provides a clue, Al Jazeera America’s coverage will tilt to the political left.

Its American columnists, day in, day out, compose a stable of liberal college professors and trial lawyers who paint negative pictures of U.S. society.

Al Jazeera English promotes National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden as a politically oppressed whistleblower.

On its Web page, sociology professor William Robinson writes that the immigration overhaul passed by the U.S. Senate and backed by Mr. Obama is a “war on immigrants.”

Other columnists attack free enterprise in Third World countries, blame the U.S. Navy live-fire training for diseases in Puerto Rico, criticize Republicans for “making women’s lives harder” by banning late-term abortions, and categorize Mr. Snowden as committing “political crimes.”

A story during the week of July 8 criticized a plan in Florida to reduce the appeal time between sentencing and executing death-row inmates. The story featured an ACLU lawyer and an ex-convict sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. No time was given to supporters of the proposed law.

Al Jazeera English aired a story last week that said: “U.S. most expensive country for childbirth. Having baby in the U.S. costs more than anywhere else, despite country’s highest infant mortality rates.”

The United States does not have the highest infant mortality rate, measured by the deaths of children younger than 1 year per 1,000 live births. The U.S. rate of 5.9 puts it well below the average of 37.6, according to the CIA World FactBook 2013.

From its start, Al Jazeera English appeared to be a way for the headquarters in Doha to paint a negative picture of America.

The channel scored a coup in 2006 by signing former ABC “Nightline” substitute host Dave Marash as its Washington studio anchor.

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