In the halls of American power, the Arab Spring has brought Al-Jazeera in from the cold.
Seven years after then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called the broadcaster’s reporting “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable” and President George W. Bush joked about bombing it, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised it as “real news” in her recent Senate testimony.
Not only that, her staffers, as well as those of the CIA and the Obama White House, were attending the Congressional Correspondents’ Dinner as Al-Jazeera’s guests.
“They are a really important media entity, and we have a really great relationship with them,” said Dana Shell Smith, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for international media engagement, who speaks Arabic and has frequently appeared on the channel. “This administration has empowered those of us who actually do the communicating to be in a close relationship with Al-Jazeera. They understand that the relationship can’t consist of complaining to each other about the differences we have.”