July 12th, 2009
03:40 PM ET
13 years ago

Reliable Sources: Frost opens up on Al Jazeera English, Nixon

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sir David Frost has been anchoring a news program Frost Over the World since 2006 but until just recently, virtually no one in Washington could watch.  The problem?  The legendary journalist – best known for his incisive interviews with former president Richard Nixon – works for al Jazeera’s English channel and cable providers only began carrying it in the nation’s capital on July 1.

On Reliable Sources Sunday morning, Frost told Howard Kurtz why Al Jazeera English may have gotten a bad rap from its association with its Arabic counterpart, famous – or infamous, depending on your point of view – for carrying many of the video and audio messages from Osama Bin Laden.

"Every company... delighted at those Osama bin Laden tapes. You see, they'd drop them through the letter box. They seem to be dropping them through our [Al Jazeera English's] letter boxes now. But from that, I mean, once they decided to use them, and there are lots they didn't use. But I mean once they decided to use them, so did the BBC, so did ITV, so did CBS, NBC, ABC. Everyone wanted them. And they just happened to be the lucky recipients," Frost said.

"Al Jazeera English came along and it immediately, people see it, they realize that it's independent, that it's international, that it's for the south as well as the north. And you can see it's not about Osama bin Laden any more than any other network is."

Frost was one of the well-known personalities who gave the channel instant credibility, and said that he has complete editorial independence.

"They assured me from the beginning that there was total editorial freedom, and there has been complete, total, no interference, whatsoever."

Kurtz also asked Sir David Frost about his interviews with President Richard Nixon – now fictionalized in the hit movie “Frost/Nixon." Even though the interviews took place over three decades ago, they sparked modern day journalistic issues such as 'checkbook journalism.' The former President was paid $600,000 for the series of interviews.

"Questions about checkbook journalism happened during the 18 months between when we signed and when we did it. But that really sort of came to an end when the first interview when out and everybody said this is history."

Frost conducted over 28 hours of interviews with Nixon, and said, "I don't know who else in the world there is to talk to for 28 and a quarter hours...except, perhaps, my wife."

Filed under: State of the Union
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Zachary Noteman

    Thank God Americans are finally going to have Al Jazeera English as a choice for where they get their news. I've watched BBC, CNN, Fox News, etc and Al Jazeera English is as good or better than them all. They are independent, non-partisan, and have great coverage and in-depth reporting. The days of our country's zenophobia/Islamophobia/Arabphobia are hopefully over for good.

    July 12, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. Cheney4Prez2012

    Nooo! Them iraqis will be turnin our impressionable god fearing white daughters into burka wearing, arab rap music fans before we know it! God help us all if that happens! God bless Sarah Palin and god bless Jesus!

    July 13, 2009 12:15 am at 12:15 am |