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April 2003 • Vol 3, No. 4 •

Study in Contrast: CNN versus Al-Jazeera

By Raid Qusti

Since the start of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, two media giants have scattered correspondents in the northern, central and southern parts of Iraq to cover unfolding events as immediately as possible. CNN won its worldwide reputation for being the first news channel to enter and report from Baghdad in the first Gulf War in 1991.

Al-Jazeera is the first Arabic all-news satellite channel.

Both channels have large audiences in Saudi Arabia for breaking news from Iraq. However, CNN is continuing to disappoint its viewers in Saudi Arabia and the region with its biased reporting. Analyses, news coverage and correspondents’ reports seem fixated exclusively on the advancement of the American and British forces and the success of their mission.

In other words, CNN tries to tell you exactly what the American administration wants you to hear: That all is going great; that troops are being welcomed by Iraqi citizens in towns along the road to Baghdad; that resistance from Iraqis in the south has been taken care of; and that the bombs dropped on Iraqi cities were really just missiles pinpointing strategic Iraqi weapons facilities and satellite communications as shown by General Tommy Franks in his news conference to the press on—what else—a large television screen.

On the other hand, Al-Jazeera not only gives its viewers a perspective of the humane side of this unjust war, but it shows footage that neither CNN nor any other American news channel would dare show.

I have been following both satellite channels carefully since the war broke out. I have yet to see CNN show its viewers footage of the devastation, wreckage, and bloodshed caused by the bombardments of U.S. warplanes to Iraqi cities.

It was Al-Jazeera that showed U.S. footage of people being admitted to a hospital in Basra after U.S. raids. We saw how patients, brought to the hospital covered in blood, were receiving treatment on the floor because the hospital could not accommodate the numbers.

It was Al-Jazeera that showed U.S. footage of bodies being carried onto a large lorry in a northern Kurdish town after the U.S. sent some 50 cruise missiles to the area in what it said was a crackdown on the Ansar Al-Islam group.

It was Al-Jazeera that showed U.S. footage of civilian buildings completely destroyed by U.S. raids; of an Iraqi father weeping as he carried the body of his daughter from the wreckage of the building.

One clip showed the remains of a building with a sign on the floor that read: “Pharmacy.”

It was Al-Jazeera that interviewed workers from the Red Cross who spoke out to say that the bombs dropped on cities were not hitting military targets but civilian buildings.

Does CNN have no correspondents in the Kurdish towns, Basra and other Iraqi cities? Yes, it does. But CNN would never dare show the American public or the world images of Iraqi citizens killed or injured by U.S. raids on their cities. That would damage the image of the U.S. government and fuel further calls in America to stop the war.

So what are CNN correspondents doing in Iraq? They are there to tell us when there is “ breaking news” of a U.S. soldier that has been wounded or killed; to give us a full analysis how that happened.

They are there to show us the images of Kurdish people who have fled to the mountains to live in deprived conditions; to tell us that this war will liberate them from Saddam’s regime and will give them their political and ethnic rights in Iraq.

They are there, embedded with the U.S. Marines, to tell us that they are inching closer to Baghdad every day.

They are there to show us footage of Iraqis welcoming them.

They are not there to show us the images of Iraqi people killed or injured by the U.S. air raids. They are not there to report that Iraqis resisting American troops are not all soldiers from the Iraqi Army, but citizens who are willing to fight and die. Not for Saddam Hussein, but for their country.

I had no sympathy for CNN when the Iraqi government accused the news channel of being an American propaganda tool and kicked its correspondents out of Baghdad.

I suggest that CNN change the logo that is displayed every once in a while on the channel to “CNN: An American Administration Company.” That sums up its mission in Iraq.

Nevertheless, I still have not deleted CNN from my satellite dish decoder. I need it whenever I am hypertensive to raise my blood pressure.

Al Awda





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