If we were to believe liberals, the last several years could be dubbed the Age of Propaganda -- what scandalized columnist Frank Rich, who knows quite a lot about this subject, calls the "decline and fall of truth."
They complained when government agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services put out "video news releases" that some lax TV stations aired without editing. They complained when the Pentagon hired American P.R. companies like the Lincoln Group to place positive stories about American forces in the Iraqi newspapers. They complained when conservative P.R. man Armstrong Williams struck a deal with the Department of Education to promote the Bush "No Child Left Behind" policy.
But the same left-wing crowd that claims to hate propaganda seems to be offering nothing but flowers and best wishes for the November launch of al-Jazeera English. The new network presents itself as a bold, adventurous news outlet to promote an Arab point of view, to redirect global news coverage to the point of view of the "South" -- left-wing lingo for Third World monarchs and dictators. Its sugar daddy is the emir of Qatar, seriously wealthy and very much committed to an Islamic agenda.
Questions about the network's radical ideology emerged quickly. CNN attempted to interview al-Jazeera talk show host (and former CNN International journalist) Riz Khan and discovered how al-Jazeera English won't be speaking the truth to power, especially when it comes to the subject that has brought the greatest attention to it -- terrorism. CNN's Frank Sesno asked Khan, "Is Hamas a terrorist organization?" Khan went agnostic: "I'm not one to judge." Then Sesno asked, "Is Hezbollah a terrorist organization?" Khan replied, "Same thing, you know -- I'm not going to judge."
In an outbreak of common sense, this offshoot of the infamous channel best known as a video jukebox for Osama bin Laden and other Arab terrorist fanatics has so far been rejected by every major American cable TV operator.