The Control Room: A Documentary (2004)

The most popular TV system in the Arab world is Al Jazeera. As we see in this documentary, virtually all of the US government officials regard it as blatant propaganda dedicated to discrediting the US in the Middle East. This peek behind the scenes of this Qatar-based organization suggests otherwise, although it leaves no doubt that Al Jazeera does indeed favor the causes of the Arab people, though not necessarily their terrorist excesses. Indeed, in one scene when an American reporter accuses the agency for not being objective, the interviewee turns the tables and asks if any of the American news agencies are really objective—do not all of them implicitly support the American invasion of Iraq?

Thus this is a fascinating examination not just of Al Jazeera, but of how the news is reported to Americans, as well as Arabs. We see several Arabs, and the young soldier in charge of disseminating information engaged several times in frank but friendly exchanges. Many scenes in which Al Jazeera showed the bloodied bodies of US soldiers are disturbing. All concerned with the Middle East and how the events there are reported to Arab and American audiences should see this film. But beware, much of it is like a dash of cold water thrown in the face of our American smugness.

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