If you've read any al-Jazeera online stories or seen any video, you know that the Qatar-based media is laughably - comically - anti-American. Even smart Arabs don't take AJ's "news" stories without a large dollop of skepticism. They are unashamedly agenda-driven - far more than any American network, and that's saying a lot.
So why is AJ popular with some of the president's aides?
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."
The differences also have shrunk as the big story in the Middle East has shifted from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the democratic movements sweeping the region. In the recent uprisings, U.S. interests tended to line up with Al-Jazeera's, and President Barack Obama alluded to both the network's influence and its pro-democracy bent in remarks caught on an open mic during a closed-door fundraiser last week.
"Pro-democracy bent?" Al-Jazeera? Whatever they're bending, it ain't democracy - at least not the kind of democracy you and I would recognize.
Apparently, the president and half the state department are just tickled about a network that excuses terrorism against the Jews, and spreads the most ridiculous rumors about what is happening in the Middle East. It reveals far more about them that the White House looks upon these shills for the Qatar royal family than it does the network that so laughably skews its news against the US.