By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Two major Arab TV networks, al Jazeera and al Hurra, will join American networks and cable news stations to cover President Obama's State of the Union tonight and the post-speech spin.
Maps provided to House and Senate members of where the media will be in the Capitol's Statuary Hall, the Senate Russell Building's Rotunda, and the House Cannon Building's Rotunda show 57 different camera positions, including two for al Jazeera and one for al Hurra.
In the Capitol, al Jazeera gets a choice location near the center of the half-circle hall filled with statues of American heroes. One of the closest statues is of former President Reagan. It also has a spot in the Cannon Building. Al Hurra is in the Capitol also.
Al Jazeera made big news when it opened a bureau in Washington during the height of the Iraq war. Some lawmakers ignored its interview requests, but the network has since become a regular on the Washington media beat, and some politicians and federal agencies reach out to the Arab network specifically to send their message into TVs in countries like Yemen and Iran.
The maps are used by staffers and lawmakers who want to give their spin, or opinion, on the speeches by the president and the GOP response from new Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
"It's a bit of a melee afterwards, so the numbers on the maps refer to where the stand-ups are for the camera crews," said a Senate aide.