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January 31, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

U.S. television broadcast news operations and cable news networks, which have drastically curtailed or closed down their overseas bureaus, have been forced to depend on al-Jazeera for coverage of the Tunisian and Egyptian protests. Ironically, al-Jazeera’s own Arabic and English networks have effectively been banned by cable operators in the U.S. But its websites have seen an enormous upsurge in traffic. “The revolution is not being televised, it’s being streamed,” a spokesman for al-Jazeera said over the weekend, noting that it had seven teams covering Cairo as well as “multiple” reporters in Alexandria, Suez and Ismailia. It has continued to report from those locations despite a decision on Sunday by the Egyptian government to revoke its licenses. Al-Jazeera is making its content available free to other broadcasters so long as they give appropriate credit. On ABC’s This Week, veteran ABC newsman Sam Donaldson thanked Abderrahim Foukara, al-Jazeera’s Washington bureau chief, for its coverage of the North African turmoil. “Thank you for what you’re doing,” Donaldson said. “People say al-Jazeera fanned the flames here by bringing the fact that democracy is in existence and that people are being suppressed. That’s what we need. We need more communication in the world. It’s not al-Jazeera’s fault that Mubarak is under siege now.” ABC’s Christiane Amanpour and CNN’s Anderson Cooper were the first high-profile U.S. television journalists on the scene in Cairo, but coverage of the earth-shaking events in Egypt was spotty at best. On Thursday night, CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight featured an hour-long interview with the Kardashian sisters, drawing fewer than 500,000 viewers. On Sunday, while CNN was finally focusing its attention on Egypt, rival MSNBC was airing reruns of Dateline‘s “To Catch a Predator.”