We're learning today that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's surprising rapprochement and subsequent falling out with Al Jazeera appears to have all occurred in the course of one fateful Friday last week. First, some context: Back in 2004 Rumsfeld called the pan-Arab news network's coverage of civilian deaths during the Iraq War "vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable" (video here). But then, last week, Rumsfeld decided to not only appear on an Al Jazeera English show hosted by the British journalist Sir David Frost but to praise the channel. "It can be an important means of communication in the world," he noted, and "I am delighted you are doing what you are doing." (The words of praise comes at about 15:25 in the video below.)
But in an interview also taped on Friday but only released today, Rumsfeld's demeanor changes drastically. Perhaps because he's being interviewed by the confrontational Abderrahim Foukara rather than the gentle David Frost and discussing the Iraq war--which drove a wedge between Rumsfeld and Al Jazeera in the first place--and not big airy thoughts about religious extremism and the Arab Spring. Rumsfeld accuses Foukara of making "fundamentally false" assertions, asks him if he wants to yell or conduct an interview, and ultimately concludes that the whole experience has been "worthless." "I suppose you're going to drop all this on the cutting room floor," Rumsfeld concludes. Instead, Al Jazeera posted the footage to YouTube.