AJ, for those not blessed with its coverage, does care about Egypt. It cares a lot. It seems to have covered absolutely nothing else for the past two weeks. And apart from the obvious partiality of its coverage (it makes no attempt to hide its contempt for Mubarak and his regime), there's one other thing that bothers me about it...
Western media has tended to portray the protests as "pro-democracy". Yet that word is significantly missing from most of AJ's coverage. Rather than aspiring to future democracy, they are passionate about purging current corruption.
Just to prove I'm not imagining this slant, I compared Al Jazeera's coverage with that of several major Western news outlets (by searching their websites for current news stories featuring "Egypt" plus either "democracy" or "corruption" or both). What I found:
Dear Mr Mubarak,
First, congratulations on being Egypt's longest-serving ruler since Muhammed Ali Pasha. Egypt is an ancient and widely respected country, unlike some in your neighbourhood, and having earned a place in that history should stand as an achievement in itself.
And congratulations also on remaining in residence long after many lesser dictators would have given up. You are clearly a man of principle and tenacity. We must stress, however, that at this difficult time it is more important than ever to avoid seriously blotting your record with the Americans. Keep this up, and you can look forward to a retirement peppered with prestigious speaking engagements, talk-show appearances and memoir-serialisation rights that will keep you in both hookahs and hookers for life.
We understand that you're not a democrat. We understand why you're not a democrat. That's fine with us. Our media may quack up a storm about "democracy", but as William Hague made clear on Al Jazeera last week - we're perfectly happy for you to govern Egypt however you like, just so long as you do it quietly. And if you can end your present domestic crisis - or even just ride it out until October - without spawning an international one, then good for you.
And we understand that people in your position should be appropriately rewarded for your efforts. It's a stressful job. Nobody begrudges you a few millions in your Swiss retirement fund. You absolutely should give plum jobs to your unqualified cronies, treat yourself to the occasional duck island or private business trip or bunga-bunga party at your taxpayers' expense. That's expected.
But there is such a thing as moderation. When you've amassed a family fortune that's one-seventh of your country's total GDP, you have run your course and then some. The time to retire was probably about $60 billion ago. You're not Rupert Murdoch.
On your way out, if you could forward this note to every other Arab leader in your address book, it would save us the trouble of researching them.
The People of Europe