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HAFEZ AL-MIRAZI, AL-JAZEERA: AL-MIRAZI.

ZAHN: But as you know, your station has been accused of using anti-American language, of running graphics that feature and glorify Osama bin Laden. Even Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced the station when you repeatedly aired Osama bin Laden's statement and Colin Powell said that that was vitriolic, irresponsible kinds of statements. What is your defense to his criticism?

AL-MIRAZI: Well, Secretary Colin Powell gave interviews to Al Jazeera and later also said good words about Al Jazeera, as well as Dr. Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials. They respected the credibility of Al Jazeera and the objectivity.

The problem actually is with the American media and the Western media, who instigated the government, and they always instigate against an independent media like Al Jazeera, because they do what the American media cannot do, which is not to mix patriotism with journalism.

We cover a war in Afghanistan by putting both sides of the story, the side coming from Kabul at that time and...

ZAHN: Well, Mr. Al-Mirzari, I have to stop you there...

AL-MIRAZI: It's AL-MIRAZI.

ZAHN: I think that charge is blatantly ridiculous.

AL-MIRAZI: Well, I'll tell you what is ridiculous...

ZAHN: I think if you watch the majority of the coverage in this country...

AL-MIRAZI: Paula, what is ridiculous...

ZAHN: We do question the policies of our government.

AL-MIRAZI: Well...

ZAHN: I think we constantly put the leaders of our government on the spot when we question...

AL-MIRAZI: Only on domestic policies.

ZAHN: ... the progress of this campaign.

AL-MIRAZI: Only on domestic policies. But in foreign policy, you are just rubber stamping whatever the government do.

ZAHN: Oh, Mr. Al-Mirzari, you're not being honest at all.

AL-MIRAZI: It's AL-MIRAZI.

ZAHN: Look at the debate in this country about the Israeli's retaliatory strikes in...

AL-MIRAZI: OK...

ZAHN: ... in the Middle East. I mean you have read the editorials in this country.

AL-MIRAZI: Paula, let me... ZAHN: You've seen the front page headlines.

AL-MIRAZI: Let me just remind you of the CNN coverage of what happened Saturday night, last Saturday. For two hours, CNN was doing exactly what people were criticizing Al Jazeera of doing, footage of 10 minutes coming out of Jerusalem, terrible footage, of course. Nobody would allow or accept the killing of civilians. But 10 minutes of footage have been kept repeating all over for more than two hours with commentators from your own reporters like Leon and others, and adopting the rhetoric and the argument of the Likud, not only the Israelis or the Labor, but the Likud, and giving a podium for Mr. Netanyahu and all the Israeli right...

ZAHN: I think, sir...

AL-MIRAZI: ... to bash the Arabs.

ZAHN: I have to tell you, I beg to differ with you.

AL-MIRAZI: That is not creative reporting.

ZAHN: I can't say that I watched every minute of our four hours of coverage that night, but I will tell you that as with all news organizations, one would hope that you get on the phone and you try to find differing points of view. We, of course, had Palestinian representation on our air. That is absolutely absurd.

AL-MIRAZI: But you give them a tough time the same way that you are giving me a tough time. Had you had an Israeli journalist with you, you have been pampering him or showering him with praise, very easy softballs. But only the problem with that you get Arabs only to grill them. And this is the problem.

ZAHN: No, sir, that is not true.

AL-MIRAZI: There is no way...

ZAHN: I had the former prime minister...

AL-MIRAZI: Well, you did that with Hanan Ashawari (ph).

ZAHN: ... of Israel on yesterday...

AL-MIRAZI: You did that with Hanan Ashawari.

ZAHN: We also had Mr. Barak on...

AL-MIRAZI: Yes, and...

ZAHN: ... and we asked him the question, why is it Shimon Peres walked out of this meeting when the vote was taken to possibly try to in some way topple the government of Yasser Arafat?

AL-MIRAZI: Exactly...

ZAHN: Shimon Peres, we well reported the story that there is a rift within the Israeli government, that not all Israelis supported...

AL-MIRAZI: OK. You are defending Sharon.

ZAHN: That is absolutely not true.

AL-MIRAZI: You were defending Sharon...

ZAHN: There are...

AL-MIRAZI: You were criticizing the liberal, Paula.

ZAHN: There are people, as you well know, within the Israeli government that do not support these retaliatory strikes. I think our coverage is fair and balanced.

AL-MIRAZI: Wait...

ZAHN: A final thought, sir, this morning on what the goal of Al Jazeera's coverage is.

AL-MIRAZI: The goal is the motto of Al Jazeera, to cover both sides of the story, the view and the other point of view, to make sure that we would have an Israeli journalist or an Israeli official with us in the interview, deal with him with respect the same way we would interview Arabs. And we would also remind people with that word that you called the ancient, Paula, yourself when you interviewed Hanan Ashawari. The word is occupation. And this is the word that we should always remember.

Occupation is an ancient, I agree with you. That shouldn't have been, that shouldn't have stayed in the 21st century and it is the responsibility of credible journalists like you and journalists in the U.S. to remind people that the occupation of the Palestinian land should be ended.

ZAHN: Mr. Al-Mirzari, we're going to leave it there this morning. But I do once again need to remind you in our coverage with various guests we've had representing the Israeli government this week asked questions, as we have over the last couple of weeks, about the settlement issue, which is deeply important to the Palestinians, and also the whole issue of refugees and their potential return if a Palestinian state ends up being created.

So we...

AL-MIRAZI: When was the last time...

ZAHN: Our coverage has been fair...

AL-MIRAZI: Paula, when was the last time...

ZAHN: I've got to leave it there because we are hitting a business news break...

AL-MIRAZI: OK, thank you. ZAHN: ... that is a sponsored segment and someone's got to pay for these conversations, Mr. Al-Mazari and Mr. Salama Salama. Thank you for your time this morning.

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