Matt HealeySaturday,5 January 2013

The Snap:

A former colleague of mine sent me the following article: “Time Warner Cable Dropped CurrentTV as Soon as It Was Sold to Al Jazeera.” In general the U.S. does not hold Al Jazeera in very high esteem. I suspect this is because the average American associates the network with Islamic terrorists.

The Download:

This is a very bad idea. I used to watch Al Jazeera English when I lived in Singapore. It focuses its coverage on the Middle East and does provide another perspective than what you get on the reputable U.S. news networks like CNN, CNBC, and Bloomberg. It provides a very different perspective than you get on the disreputable U.S. news networks — I’m looking at you Rupert. Dropping the coverage is a bad idea because the U.S. needs to understand what is going on in the rest of the world. We do not live in a vacuum, and seeing a variety of perspectives can help us understand others’ views of the world and us. Yet rather than embrace other views and seek to understand them, the U.S. reaction is to attack the view as un-American and thus not deserving of broadcast in the U.S. This is funny because in the same breath we think that “Jersey Shore” is worthy of being broadcast in the U.S.

But the problem goes deeper than just our desire to shield ourselves from the perspectives of the rest of the world. We also need to explain to the rest of the world that we are the defenders of freedom — and a free press is one part of that. The problem is that if you look at the Press Freedom Index, rather than being ranked #1 — as you would expect from the self-proclaimed defenders of freedom — the U.S. is tied with Argentina and Romania for #47 out of a total of 179. I guess that press freedom is defined as the freedom to see what we want you to see. Further, as the self-proclaimed defenders of a free press, we demand that other countries carry our news networks. I have never been in a country where you can not get CNN. Granted, it is censored in places like Singapore and China, but you can still get most of the news. Can you imagine the hissy fit that the U.S. would throw if a large country pulled a local network because it was purchased by Fox or CNN? That would be an attack on the U.S. ideal of a free press, and yet we feel totally justified in doing the exact same thing. This is exactly why large swaths of the world have a problem with American policies. Maybe we should start trying to live up to our ideals before trying to force them on the rest of the world.

Hat Tips:

Time Warner drops Current TVPress Freedom Index , Image Credit: Flickr

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  1. […] were a few series that I really liked writing but discontinued. The first was the Why America Is/Isn’t Fucked. The reasonI stopped this series is I moved back to the U.S. so I have fewer examples about why […]

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