(Vol. 13 No. 3 July 2008) In the years after 9/11, the Bush administration repeatedly charged that the Arab media are biased against the United States. A cross-border survey of 601 Arab journalists found that much of the conventional wisdom that has shaped U.S. public diplomacy policy toward the region lacks substance.Arab journalists see their mission as that of driving political and social reform in the Middle East and North Africa. Iraq and Palestine fall well below such internal Arab issues as political reform, human rights, poverty, and education as priority concerns. They draw a clear distinction between U.S. policy and the American people; criticize the U.S. for failing to live up to its ideals, which they largely share; and exhibit skepticism about the role of the clergy. Politically, half call themselves “democrats,” and they most closely identify with the pan-Arab region and the broader Muslim world, not with an individual nation-state.
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