What should America do on/with Arab TV?

One of the best places to read about Arab media from an American perspective is on the Abu Aardvark blog (written by American political scientist Marc Lynch). I just read two of his recent post concerning the US administration’s performance on Al-Jazeera and some advice he has for the new management of Al-Hurra. Both are very interesting reads:

Abu Aardvark: Al-Jazeera and Israel:
From an American public diplomacy perspective, it’s hard to believe that even Israel gets more high ranking politicians on to al-Jazeera talk shows than does the United States, whose senior officials are regularly invited but have gone back to a surly de facto boycott of al-Jazeera since Lebanon (on the rare occasions when they feel like addressing an Arab audience is important, they choose the Saudi al-Arabiya instead – as Condi Rice did the other day). This hurts America more than it hurts al-Jazeera, and it’s a shame.
Abu Aardvark: Advice for al-Hurra:
America is poorly and thinly covered by most Arab satellite television. Al-Hurra should fill that void by offering intense, detailed, and informative coverage of American politics and society. That coverage should demonstrate the diversity and contentiousness of American society, not try to put a pretty face on America. Consider how useful it could be for Muslims trying to make sense of political Islam to be exposed to the wide range of deep debates among Americans about the role of religion in politics (evangelical Protestants, for instance). That coverage should feature the full spectrum of American views on foreign policy, as well, not just the policies of the current administration. Don’t just tell Arabs how great democracy is: show them how democracy works and doesn’t work in America, in all its ugliness and beauty. At a minimum, this could challenge monolithic stereotypes about America; beyond that it could illuminate Arab political debates in new ways, and it could even be great TV.


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