Philip Seib looks at the history of Al Jazeera and why it is a point of contention for some Middle Eastern countries.
This week’s PD News focused on President Trump’s trip overseas, from the importance of Saudi Arabia to Melania Trump’s international debut as First Lady.
The latest incident saw Secretary Tillerson and the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al Jubeir, taking questions about the president’s visit to Saudi Arabia from a group of international journalists that did not include members of the American press corps. U.S. journalists complained that they weren’t even given a head’s up about the briefing, a shocking breach of norms that took place in one of the least press-friendly countries on Earth—a place where a servile media parrots the government’s line at almost all times and where bloggers are given lashes for speaking out.
This function of the press in no way comports with Tillerson’s experience at ExxonMobil. [...] Oil is not an especially popular product, and its production generates manifold controversies, yet just about everybody needs oil, at least for now, so well-run corporations in the industry can be as durable as public utilities, no matter what consumers think. Some time ago, ExxonMobil executives concluded that they were better off avoiding journalists to the extent that it was possible, and putting out what little they had to say on their own Web site.
Mr. Bogachikhin was poking fun at the charge from Western governments, American and European, that RT is an agent of Kremlin policy and a tool directly used by President Vladimir V. Putin to undermine Western democracies — meddling in the recent American presidential election and, European security officials say, trying to do the same in the Netherlands, France and Germany, all of which vote later this year. But the West is not laughing.
The Voice of America was never intended to do investigative reporting, nor should it.
“A decent respect to the opinions of mankind,” intones the U.S. Declaration of Independence, requires that those who want to break away from a nation-state explain publicly their reasons for doing so. Today, however, following a dramatic week of events connected to the ascent of Donald Trump to the Presidency, a similar imperative requires that we try to explain to the world—and most of all to ourselves—what is going on.