Saturday, July 03, 2004

Control Room

Via an op-ed in the New York Times on Al-Jazeera (and Fox News), I came across a review of "Control Room", a documentary made by Jehane Noujaim on the difference in perception of the Iraq war by Americans and Arabs. Quoting from the movie's brochure:
In the early days of the war in Iraq, Americans could turn on their televisions twenty-four hours a day and take a front row seat with coalition troops careening across the desert. We could follow the action live as precision bombers brought Iraqi cities to their knees and American POWs were rescued and triumphantly returned home as television heroes. We could watch soldiers toppling statues of Saddam Hussein.

But as Americans witnessed U.S. victory at home, a different story unfolded on television sets throughout the Arab world. Qatari-based Al-Jazeera broadcast images of Iraqi civilian casualties and American POWs that were taboo in the American media. Many claim that as a result, America barred Al-Jazeera journalists from reporting on Wall Street and bombed their headquarters in Baghdad.

As the saying goes there are always two sides to every story, but in a media-managed war where does the truth lie? With exclusive behind-the-scenes access to Al-Jazeera, American journalists, and the players at Central Command, CONTROL ROOM takes an unprecedented look at the business of war. Uniquely qualified with a cross-cultural perspective, Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane
Noujaim (, travels to the headquarters of Al-Jazeera and U.S. Central Command to capture the staging of the war in Iraq and the media’s vital role in writing history.

This quote from Rumsfeld seems to describe the gulf perfectly.
"We know that Al Jazeera has a pattern of playing propaganda over and over and over again," Don Rumsfeld complained during the war. "What they do is, when there's a bomb that goes down, they grab some children and some women and pretend that the bomb hit the women and the children. . . . We are dealing with people that are perfectly willing to lie to the world to attempt to further their case — and to the extent people lie, ultimately they are caught lying and they lose their credibility."

Rich, isn't it, coming from him? What was that proverb about glass houses and stones again?

Anyone know where I can get my hands on a copy of this movie? Might make an interesting counterpoint to Fahrenheit 9/11, another documentary to watch this summer.


Sanketh said...

Well I think the documentary u talk about wouldn't be a counterpoint to F9/11. Thats what Michael Moore talks abt. I am sure this will be real cynical.
I am waiting to watch F9/11 and some other anti-Moore Documentaries.

Nitish said...

Considering that Control Room presents both an Arab and an American perspective, it could be a counterpoint to either F9/11 or an establishment documentary, though it probably wouldn't be a contrast to either