First Published: 2003-03-26

Powell accuses Al-Jazeera of biased coverage

US Secretary of State accuses Qatar-based satellite TV of portraying the US-led war on Iraq in negative light.


Middle East Online

Al-Jazeera's viewership has jumped 10 percent since the start of war

WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday that the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera was portraying the US-led invasion of Iraq in a negative light and exaggerating small military achievements of Saddam Hussein's regime.

In an interview with National Public Radio, aired just hours before he gave a live interview to Al-Jazeera, Powell accused the Qatar-based satellite broadcaster of a lack of objectivity in covering the war.

"I'm sorry that that is the case, but it is the case," Powell said.

"Al-Jazeera has an editorial line and a way presenting news that appeals to the Arab public," he said. "They watch it and they magnify the minor successes of the regime.

"And they tend to portray our efforts in a negative light," Powell said, adding that he hoped Al-Jazeera would report on US efforts to improve the lives of the Iraqi people as the conflict continued and after it is over.

"We will see what Al-Jazeera is reporting after we have defeated this regime and the United States ... working with others, working with the UN start to bring in humanitarian supplies, medical supplies, a reconstruction effort and put in place a better life for the people of Iraq," he said.

"I hope Al-Jazeera is going to be around to watch that and report that to the Arab public and I think at that point, the Arab public will realize that we came in peace, we came as liberators, not conquerors," he said.

Earlier Wednesday ahead of its interview with Powell, Al-Jazeera, which first broadcast videotape of dead and captured US troops in Iraq, said its viewership had jumped 10 percent since the war began last week.

The POW footage, which had been taken from and were later shown on Iraqi state television, provoked fury from US and British officials who said they were a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

The New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday banned Al-Jazeera's reporters from its trading floor - a move widely seen as retaliation for the channel's coverage of the war.

In addition to the POW pictures, the station has provided groundbreaking coverage of the war and is the only channel broadcasting from the southern city of Basra, scene of a furious battle between Iraqi and besieging US-led coalition forces.

The channel first gained major Western attention by broadcasting statements from Osama bin Laden after his al-Qaeda organization's September 11 attacks in the United States.


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