Before 9/11, most Americans had probably never heard of Al Jazeera. The Qatar government-owned, Doha-based broadcaster was pretty focused on the Arab world. It also wasn’t very old, having only been established in 1996, and gone 24-hour in 1999. The first that most Westerners heard of it was during the initial invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Al Jazeera immediately gained notoriety by airing videos released by Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. They became known as Islamist propaganda, the voice of the terrorists. Al Jazeera became synonymous with Al Qaeda’s media arm.
Of course, some of this was knee-jerking. A lot of it was knee-jerking. In the years since, even as Al Jazeera expanded its media reach into the West, establishing Al Jazeera America with the purchase of Al Gore’s Current TV in 2013, it has built a better reputation for objective journalism. Particularly if one is interested in what is happening in the Middle East, one could do much worse than check Al Jazeera.
But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have an agenda.