US faults Al-Jazeera English coverage of Haiti

WASHINGTON - The US State Department on Tuesday faulted the coverage of the Haiti earthquake by Al-Jazeera's English service, saying it falsely suggested a US militarization of the country.
Philip Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said he complained to the Qatar-based network's English-language service about "what we felt was unfair, unbalanced coverage of operations in Haiti."

People on the rubble of their home in Port-au-Prince
People on the rubble of their home in Port-au-Prince
"It suggested there was a militarization of the effort," Crowley told reporters.
He criticized an instance in which he said Al-Jazeera's English service compared the Port-au-Prince airport, the hub of US relief operations, to the Green Zone where US forces are stationed in Baghdad.
Crowley pointed to Al-Jazeera English in response to a question seeking clarification of remarks earlier Tuesday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said some foreign media "either misunderstood or deliberately misconstrued" the US decision to send thousands of troops to Haiti.
A spokesperson for Al-Jazeera English defended its coverage of the earthquake, which it said was "balanced, fair and detailed."
It said the report in question "reflected the concerns of the Brazilian and French governments, aid agencies on the ground and many Haitians we spoke to in the course of our newsgathering" and allowed the State Department to respond.
"We will continue to provide as accurate an account as possible of the relief effort, and reflect all opinions on its progress and effect," the spokesperson said.
At a public forum, Clinton strongly defended the US military involvement in Haiti, saying it was vital to relief efforts in the wake of the tragedy that killed more than 150,000 people.
Leftist Latin American nations such as Venezuela and Cuba have accused the United States of occupying Haiti. The United States sent troops to the poor Caribbean nation in 1915, establishing a military government that lasted until 1934.
The United States has also faced criticism from NATO ally Italy, where a senior official on Sunday said Washington had sent "too many officers" to Haiti and could not find a capable leader.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi distanced himself from the remarks Tuesday, hailing the United States for its "generous and significant intervention" in Haiti.
Al-Jazeera has had a rocky relationship with US authorities, who have faulted its coverage of US foreign policy and its airing of tapes by Osama bin Laden but also turned to the network to reach an Arab audience.

Wednesday, January 27th 2010

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