Hillary Clinton praises Al-Jazeera as ‘real news’

Donald Rumsfeld had once termed Al-Jazeera news as inaccurate & inexcusable.

Updated: Apr 18, 2011, 20:52 PM IST

London: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recognised the Al-Jazeera news channel as “real news” in her recent Senate testimony, seven years after the then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called its reporting “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable,” while former President George W. Bush joked about bombing it.

Recently, Clinton’s staffers, the CIA and the Obama White House officials, attended 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,” Politico quoted Dana Shell Smith, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for international media engagement, as saying.

“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,” he added.

President Barack Obama had earlier praised the network’s influence and its pro-democracy opinion amid uprisings in the Middle East.

“The emir of Qatar comes by the Oval Office today, and he owns Al-Jazeera basically. Pretty influential guy. He is a big booster, big promoter of democracy all throughout the Middle East. Reform, reform, reform. You’re seeing it on Al-Jazeera,” Obama has said.

Two men had appeared in court in 2005 after being accused of leaking a secret document, which a newspaper said showed that Bush wanted to bomb Arabic television station Al Jazeera.

The hearing came a week after the Daily Mirror reported that a government memo said Prime Minister Tony Blair had talked Bush out of bombing the broadcaster`s headquarters in Qatar in April 2004.

The White House had, however, dismissed the report as "outlandish" and Blair denied receiving any details of a reported US proposal to bomb Al Jazeera.