Gabriel Elizondo explains on al-Jazeera’s site that things were going well until he gave the principal his al-Jazeera business card. The principal immediately went to find the high school superintendent, Michael Lee, who was none too pleased about the reporter’s visit.
An excerpt of Elizondo’s account:
The international news network headquartered in Doha, Qatar, and broadcasting to 190 million households around the world has had a negative reception in the U.S. since the Bush administration, which criticized al-Jazeera reports as biased against Americans.
Leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon hired the Rendon Group to monitor news reports, particularly from al-Jazeera, for anti-American bias. After al-Jazeera broadcast graphic footage from Iraq, U.S. officials called al-Jazeera anti-American and said it incited violence. In 2003, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq both banned al-Jazeera from their trading floors.
Since the Arab Spring began, however, al-Jazeera has increasingly gained popularity in the U.S. because of its solid coverage of the protests rocking the Middle East. Some Americans have even started a campaign to demand the network be offered by their cable carrier.
But along with new praise for the network has come criticism, some of it related to the network’s ties to the Qatari government, and much of it — as Elizondo’s report shows — a renewal of older views that the network is too graphic, encourages terrorists, or is anti-American.