HILLARY CLINTON LAUDS ‘REAL NEWS’…. As uprisings continue to bring dramatic shakeups to the Middle East, much of the world has turned to Al Jazeera English for its excellent coverage. Yesterday, the network even received some very high-profile praise from a leading U.S. official.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Al Jazeera is gaining more prominence in the U.S. because it offers “real news” — something she said American media were falling far short of doing.

Clinton was speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and she said the U.S. is losing the “information war” in the world. One of the reasons she cited for this was the quality of channels like Al Jazeera.

“Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news,” she said. “You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”

Nicely done, Madam Secretary.

NPR noted that Clinton’s comments “are a marked shift from the hostility expressed toward Al Jazeera by many conservatives, as well as some officials under former President Bush.”

There were those reports about the Bush administration considering a plan to bomb the network in 2004, so, yes, I’d say this represents a marked shift.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.