Well, ain’t this swell.
There was ample attention in journalistic circles as Al Jazeera America had its premiere on Tuesday.
The news channel — which replaced Current TV at 3 p.m. Eastern time — was expected to be carried by five of the country’s 10 biggest television providers, but one of those, AT&T U-verse, dropped Current, and thus Al Jazeera, late Monday night.
The new American channel was supposed to be available in about 48 million homes, according to Nielsen. The loss of U-verse reduces that to around 45 million.
Still, that is a decent start for a new channel: many other now-successful cable channels, including Fox News and MSNBC, started in fewer homes.
On Tuesday, Al Jazeera America was available to some subscribers of Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, and Verizon FiOS. The biggest provider that is not yet carrying the new channel, Time Warner Cable, said it remained in negotiations about possibly carrying it in the future.
As for those not carrying the mighty Al Jazeera, well, they will feel the full force of the law.
“Unfortunately AT&T’s decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable — an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations,” the broadcaster said in a statement. “We had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera’s rights under its agreement with AT&T — and to compel AT&T to do the right thing.”
The complaint, filed in Delaware Chancery Court, accuses AT&T of wrongful termination and seeks restoration of the channel as well as damages.
It is really interesting to see an organization, based in a country where freedom of expression limited by the Sharia, uses American laws to broaden its audience-which, of course, includes the First Amendment.
Ironically enough, only last week Al Jazeera ran this piece regarding the controversy sparked through Dawkins’ truthfulness on Islam:
If you’re ever unsure whether a statement about Muslims is bigoted, simply substitute the name of another minority community into the same sentence. If it sounds uncomfortable or even heinous to you upon doing so, rest assured that the original statement is probably just as malign. For the same reason we no longer talk in broad terms about “the Jews” or “the Blacks” we should no longer talk about “the Muslims”, especially when making negative generalisations which are today beginning to mimic the darkest xenophobic rhetoric of the 20th century.
Isn’t this fabulous. So whether a statement is acceptable or not has nothing to do with its truthfulness. Rather, whether saying it makes you comfortable. As it happens, during the worst days of antisemitism, most of the things that were said about Jews were lies-like the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And hence the analogy is not valid. If Al Jazeera used this argument to debunk anti-Muslim conspiracy theories (like calling Obama a Muslim) I would agree with it. But to use this to tarnish Dawkins is simply a straw man attack.
As for replacing “Muslims” with “Blacks”, this only continues the irresponsible and illogical equating of all criticism of Islam-a doctrine-with a race. People cannot change their skin color. People change their religion all the time. And Dawkins’ statement doesn’t dismiss the individuality of Muslims-it simply points out that communities that follow bad ideas end up in trouble. (It is interesting that there have been no accusations of racism against Jared Diamond for saying basically the same thing-only not about Muslims. This is another piece of evidence showing this is only political correctness in favor of Islam).
Dear Al Jazeera: if you want to be in America maybe it is time for you to be a little less hypocritical, using freedom of expression when it benefits you and trashing it when it doesn’t.