Al-Jazeera’s stream of images and interviews brings an immediacy to the epic unrest in the Arab world that simply can’t be conveyed during the nightly news. The Qatar-based network airs its English-language programming locally on Verizon’s channel 457 and online.

This week, the story is the turmoil in Libya: crowds fleeing gunfire, the dead bodies of protesters allegedly killed by government forces; shoes hurled at a TV screen while the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi delivers a speech. To contrast with these very real scenes, Al Jazeera shows excerpts from Libya’s state-run media, including an orchestra that plays as if nothing is going on. That’s an old Soviet trick to distract viewers.

In past polls, some Americans have been critical of Al Jazeera, perceiving an anti-U.S. bias in reports on 9/11 and other events. Now, the critics are Arab dictators. On Tuesday, an angry Gadhafi said to his supporters: “Some Arab media are betraying you … [giving] the wrong picture to the world.” In fact, Al-Jazeera is giving us the right picture — faster and more thoroughly than any other media outlet.

Written by Express contributor Marc Silver
Photo by Riccardo De Luca/FILE/AP