Al Jazeera, Al the Time

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I walked by the Washington studio of the new English-language version of Al Jazeera yesterday, the one that hasn't been able to get carriage in the U.S., and stopped to see what I could see.

I can understand the reluctance of cable operators to carry the channel, but that is not the subject of this piece, which is actually only the observation that it did not look to be hopping.

The florr-to-bank ceiling ground floor windows were blacked out, so that may be where the action was, but the second floor windows weren't, and what I could see from the curb on my tip-toes was a lone and lonely camera and a backdrop of neoclassical edifices overlayed with a rainbow, but nobody around to report news out of the combination of the two.

What that rainbow means I don't know, though I thought immediately, or at least by the time I am writing this, of the Wizard of Oz given that book by the Washington Post reporter that painted the Green Zone as a kind of Emerald City of incompetent bureacrats. Anyway, there was that backdrop and a single camera, unmanned or unwomaned.

The studio takes up space once owned by a bank run, I assume, by women since "Women's" was in the name as I recall, and they used to hold some networking shindigs there with plenty of networking women. Something of an irony to have the studio there, maybe, given the status of women in the Arab world.

I know about the bank because the studio is in our old building at 1627 K St. I kind of wish we were still there so I could monitor the progress. Or maybe I'm just as happy to be a block away.

I like Dave Marash, formerly of WTTG and ABC and now the U.S. face of Al Jazeera. I wonder if that was the best career move, though my guess is he would have been as happy to stay with an un-Big Appled, not-Koppel-less Nightline.

By John Eggerton

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