Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern on Thursday that the United States was losing the information war internationally, and especially in the Middle East, drawing a critical comparison between the U.S. media and broadcaster Al Jazeera.
She said Al Jazeera was a network that - despite whether one agreed with its views or not - was real news, compared with what she saw as over commercialized American broadcasts filled with arguments by experts and commentators.
She made the statements during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations committee on Wednesday where she was discussing funding for the State Department.
Clinton noted that both Russia and China now have English-language networks to advance their views.
She also brought up the media communications situation in the Middle East, especially in Afghanistan where the U.S. is trying to win back attention from the Taliban, which have rudimentary broadcasting equipment.
We're the most technologically advanced country in the world, so slowly but surely we've been trying to take back the airwaves in Afghanistan against Taliban with the most primitive kind of communication equipment, she said.
Now, take that as one example where I don't think we were very competitive, and we have worked like crazy to change that, and then go to the most extreme where you've got a global, a set of global networks, that Al Jazeera has been the leader in, that are literally changing people's minds and attitudes, she said.
And like it or hate it, it [Al Jazeera] is really effective, she said.
And in fact viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it's real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.
Al Jazeera is a 24-hour news and current affairs channel which launched in 1996 and is based in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. The government has called it the first independent Arab TV satellite channel to specialize in news and information coverage.
The channel is mostly available abroad, with limited access on U.S. cable and satellite services.
It has been previously been seen as an Arabic version of the UK's BBC. Its parent company is Qatar Media Corp. a state-run company.