Sec. of State Hillary Clinton: Al Jazeera is ‘Real News’, U.S. Losing ‘Information War’

Mar 2, 2011 5:36pm

ABC News’ Kirit Radia reports:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear today that she is worried the United States is losing what she calls the “information war” abroad.

China and Russia, she says, have started English-language networks that push their message overseas and even the Taliban controls the airwaves in Afghanistan.

And in the Arab world? Al Jazeera is king, and Clinton says she can see why.

“Al Jazeera has been the leader in that are literally changing people’s minds and attitudes. And like it or hate it, it is really effective,” she said.

“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,” she added.

Clinton said that the US has dropped the ball since the Cold War, when VOA and others US broadcasts were influential.

“We have not really kept up with the times,” Clinton argued.

“We are in information war and we cannot assume that this youth bulge that exists not just in the middle east but in so many parts of the world really knows much about us. I mean we think they know us and reject us, I would argue the really don’t know very much about who we are,” she said, noting that America’s legacy of the Cold War, World War Two, and President Kennedy are lost on newer generations.

Clinton’s State Department has tried to keep up, especially on social media, where this year they have started Tweeting in Arabic, Farsi, and other languages. Secretary Clinton last week held a web chat with a popular Egyptian site that was able to gather 6,500 questions for her in just two days.

“We are really trying to play in that arena as best we can,” she said. 

- Kirit Radia

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