Not because we have any reasonable expectation that it’ll improve Al Jazeera’s coverage of the US. Karen Hughes already personally visited Khanfar’s office back in 2006 when she was Bush’s Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. She asked him to try to be more fair to America. He politely told her to get bent. So that’s not going to happen.
And it’s not like Khanfar will tone down Al Jazeera’s increasingly explicit alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood. He was first brought in exactly to build that up. So that’s also a non-starter.
Maybe State thinks he needs publicity for the expansion of Al Jazeera English into a 24/7 presence on US cable, and wanted to do him a solid:
After Al Jazeera’s Baghdad headquarters was bombed in April 2003, reports surfaced that George W. Bush had joked about making Al Jazeera a deliberate target of U.S. attacks… Given this bombing kerfuffle and other Arab media-US government tensions, the US has been resistant to offer Khanfar easy access to American audiences and has repeatedly refused to issue him a visa to enter the US. The Obama State Department, however, is pushing reset — and just granted Khanfar’s visa. Khanfar is now Managing Director of Al Jazeera and will visit New York and Washington – and will speak at a number of forums. This trip coincides with the significant expansion of Al Jazeera English on American cable networks, moving from rather insignificant timeslots to 24/7 coverage in many large cities.
I’m pretty sure State’s reticence had more to do with Khanfar’s role in making Al Jazeera an Islamist mouthpiece – something so undeniable even The Nation reported on it – and less to do with “this bombing kerfuffle.” Or it might have been how, during his time as Baghdad bureau chairman, Al Jazeera’s programming became an outlet for incitement and warmongering.
Whatever it was, aren’t you glad to know it’s all behind us now?
* Tearing Down The Walls [TIME]
* Counterterrorism Expert: Of Course Al Jazeera Is An Outlet For Muslim Brotherhood Propaganda [MR]
* Wadah Khanfar: Pushing Reset on America’s Relationship with Al Jazeera and the Arab World [Washington Note]
* The New Face of Al Jazeera [The Nation]
* Iraqi interpreter to Totten: “Nuke Iraq”; Update: Maliki must go, says Time [Hot Air]
* Shocker: Another State Dept Public Diplomacy Initiative Backfires Spectacularly
* Huge Relief: Obama’s Awesomely Awesome Charm Means Anti-Americanism Isn’t A Problem Any More
* New Pew Study: No, Of Course There Was No Cairo Speech "Obama Effect" In Lebanon Or Iran