Kill the messenger!

Al-Jazeera’s journalists have suffered bombings, expulsions, censorship, threats, beatings, routine jailings and controversial incarceration by U.S. forces. Now, says an Associated Press report, “Al-Qaida sympathizers have unleashed a torrent of anger against Al-Jazeera television. They accuse the pan-Arab TV network of misrepresenting Osama bin Laden’s latest audiotape in the excerpts it aired.”

It’s often said if both sides dislike the way they’re portrayed then journalism is being done right. That’s too simple, of course — but the cliche bears a degree of truth.

Reporters Without Borders provided some context last year, on Al-Jazeera’s 10th anniversary:
“This satellite channel, beamed into the majority of Arab homes, took an immediate stand in opposition to traditional news broadcast by authorised media. On one hand its programmes regularly enraged Arab leaders for giving a voice to their opponents and to viewers themselves and because it raised political and social issues considered taboo in many countries in the Arab world.

“On the other hand, the US government frequently accused it of fomenting anti-American sentiment in the region and inciting violence against the US-British forces in Iraq….”