Al-Jazeera, once the scorned "anti-American" cable news network, has found a friend in the Obama White House, reports Politico. With its critical coverage of the Iraq War and publication of Osama bin Laden tapes in the aftermath of 9/11, the Qatari-based channel was ostracized by the Bush administration. Donald Rumsfeld called its reporting "vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable" while President Bush, in a controversial memo, joked about bombing the station. But following its extensive coverage of pro-democracy movements in the Arab world, the network is a huge hit in the "halls of American power," report Politico's Keach Hagey and Byron Tau.
Outwardly, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the station as "real news" in a Senate testimony and President Obama credited it with promoting democracy "all throughout the Middle East." Inwardly, the article finds officials in the White House, State Department and even the CIA glued to network's programming. “They are a really important media entity, and we have a really great relationship with them,” said a State Department official who frequently appears on the network. "This administration has empowered those of us who actually do the communicating to be in a close relationship with Al-Jazeera." It's yet to be seen if Al-Jazeera's recent goodwill gains in the U.S. government will translate to the rest of the country. As of now, the cable channel is only available in cable markets in Toledo and Sandusky Ohio; Burlington, Vermont; Houston, Texas; and Washington, D.C.