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Former ABC reporter defends Al-Jazeera comments

By Cody Combs, CNN
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Al-Jazeera compliments stir trouble
  • Sam Donaldson reinforces remark that network "performed a service"
  • Wall Street Journal columnist says he's glad it's there
  • Host Bill O'Reilly calls Al-Jazeera "anti-American and anti-Semitic"

Washington (CNN) -- Former ABC News journalist Sam Donaldson stood by recent compliments he gave to Al-Jazeera regarding its coverage of the Egypt protests during an interview Sunday on CNN's "Reliable Sources" with Howard Kurtz.

His compliments to the Qatar-based TV news network came under harsh criticism from conservative firebrand host Bill O'Reilly of Fox News.

"Any fair-minded person who follows Al-Jazeera knows it's anti-American and anti-Semitic," O'Reilly said. "Why are they cheerleading Al-Jazeera?"

Donaldson reinforced his kind words for Al-Jazeera while also acknowledging O'Reilly's critique of his comments.

"Al-Jazeera, I thought, performed a service in fanning the flames in Egypt," he said. "It says things about us we don't like, and some things that are not true. And I certainly don't subscribe to that, except a news service of any kind has got to be able to say whatever it wants, otherwise it's a contradiction in terms."

Journalists under attack in Egypt

Also taking a critical but optimistic view toward Al-Jazeera during the interview was John Fund, conservative columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Fund emphasized a methodical transition to better reporting at Al-Jazeera over the years.

"I think they've cleaned up their act," said Fund. "Frankly, the Arab street is never going to trust Western media. Al-Jazeera is about as good as we're going to get in terms of objective analysis for the Arab world, and I'm glad that it's there."