In Control Room, a film on the Arab language television satellite network al-Jazeera, interviewer Abdullah Schleifer presses U.S. Marine Lieutenant Josh Rushing to look at the Middle East as it is seen by the people who live there. Sitting in his headquarters in Doha, Qatar, at the start of the Iraq war, Rushing is trying to be helpful. Finally, he says, “Oh, you mean the Arab perspective.” And indeed, that is precisely what Schleifer, a journalism instructor from American University in Cairo, Egypt, has in mind.
Al-Jazeera, with an estimated audience of 40 million Arab-speaking viewers, brings an Arab perspective to its news coverage exactly as U.S. networks bring an American perspective to their viewers. Unfortunately, U.S. viewers rarely see the Arab perspective. Which makes director Jehane Noujaim’s Control Room an especially important film for Americans to see.