Meanwhile, on Al Jazeera America …

Tom Thurlow is an attorney who practices law in the San Francisco Bay Area and manages the blog napawhinecountry.com. He lives in Napa County with his wife Martina and daughter Rachel.


1375972566000-XXX-AL-JAZEERA-network-hdb3It has been almost two months since Al Jazeera America (AJA), the American outlet of Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera, debuted in the U.S. Viewers of the network note its impressive graphics and lack of commercials, a welcomed change of pace compared to most cable news in the States. The network also employs a host of familiar faces that help bolster AJA’s image as just another news network. It remains to be seen just how radical AJA will let its coverage becomes once it grows more assured of its acceptance into the mainstream. Already AJA’s Sunni sponsors have let the mask slip.

Despite a petition drive to exclude AJA from cable distribution, AJA’s coverage is definitely on the rise.  Last spring and summer, AJA went on a hiring spree, hiring producers, writers, technicians, and hundreds of other staffers.  AJA also snapped up big news names like Joie Chen, David Shuster and Soledad O’Brien, and then opened 12 American bureau offices.  Broadcasting began August 20.

Of course, AJA is not just another news network.  AJA’s parent company, Al Jazeera, is owned by the government of Qatar, the tiny, oil-rich, Sunni Muslim state in the Persian Gulf, bordering Saudi Arabia.  Qatar is ruled by Shiekh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who, despite his personal business dealings with Israel, is pro-Hamas, pro-Muslim Brotherhood and anti-Israel.  Al Jazeera’s news coverage has reflected those views.

In fact, Al Jazeera is so pro-Muslim Brotherhood it recently got kicked out of Egypt for instigating Muslim Brotherhood protests there.  In 2008, Al Jazeera’s Beirut bureau chief threw an on-air birthday party for Samir Kuntar, convicted killer of an Israeli family.

Americans learned to hate Al Jazeera in the days after 9-11, when Al Jazeera first repeated the charge that American Jews were warned beforehand of the attacks in New York, then repeatedly broadcast interviews of Osama bin Laden.  Al Jazeera has even described the War on Terror as “so-called,” and suicide bombings as “paradise operations.”

Through the years Al Jazeera has had on-air personalities who were blatantly anti-Semitic.  One popular Al Jazeera show, “Shari’a and Life,” features a host who regularly criticizes Shiites, Americans and Jews.

During the height of the Iraqi war years, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld described Al Jazeera as “the mouthpiece of Al Qaeda,” while President George W. Bush referred to Al Jazeera as “a terrorist organization.” Upon the initial invasion of Afghanistan and later in Iraq, US military forces bombed local Al Jazeera offices because of the support they had given terrorists.

Now that AJA is on the air in the US, Americans will get to judge for themselves if AJA will be an independent news network covering news items important to Americans, or if AJA possesses the dispositions of its parent company.

While the network’s foreign news coverage is acceptable, the viewer gets the feeling that AJA is “up to something” whenever the news involves Israel, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Mideast in general.

Take for example the network’s coverage of the civil war in Syria.  A Pew study revealed that most of the Syrian coverage by AJA was similar to most other American networks, but AJA spent much more time covering the humanitarian aspects of the story and the hardships of the rebels.  And no wonder – Qatar has funded the rebels.

In its domestic news coverage, AJA is clearly left-leaning.  Typical of a pattern, in a recent day’s news broadcast, President Obama is shown speaking and blaming Republicans for the government shut-down, then the GOP response was only paraphrased in passing by the show’s anchor.

Strictly as a marketing issue, this liberal domestic news slant puts AJA in the same crowded category as most other American news channels, like ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, NPR and MSNBC, leaving Fox News alone in the right-of-center TV news coverage.  Granted, AJA is only weeks old, but so far it is positioning its domestic news coverage in a pretty crowded field.

One recent episode of an in-depth news talk show on AJA, “The Stream,” revealed a definite anti-Israeli bias.  The episode addressed the issue of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and how to get Israel to discuss peace.  Special guests included members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which is a scandal in and of itself. The ISM is an organization, not of peace activists, but of para-militants who actively work with Palestinian terrorists and who call for armed force against Israel. ISM activists protect weapons-smuggling tunnels and have been photographed with assault weapons. Another group on the show calling itself Combatants For Peace (CFP) equates Israeli soldiers with Palestinian “combatants” (i.e. terrorists).  Neither the CFP nor ISM’s websites acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, even with defensible borders.  The Stream even included a former Israeli soldier, who complained of Israeli aggression against Palestinians.  He was probably trying to be Israel’s version of John Kerry, circa 1971.

The show featured furrowed brows and hand-wringing about how to get “both sides to stop talking past each other,” and how to “open a dialogue.”  A stream of viewer tweets across the bottom of the screen confirmed that the viewers were of the same mindset.  There was also some talk of “Israel’s occupation” and the need to boycott Israel’s products in order to foster peace talks.

AJA also maintains a website to supplement its on-air overage.  Recently, the website reported on a study that calculated the number of deaths from the Iraqi war to be over 500,000, dramatically higher than estimates from most other studies.  The website also included a letter from an inmate and hunger-striker at Guantanamo, complaining of the force-feeding he has to endure to keep him alive.  Poor guy!

So what is a news-watcher to do?  When it comes to foreign news coverage, most of the important news involves Middle East matters, a subject where AJA is pretty biased. For domestic news, so far AJA’s coverage is similar to the coverage of several other networks.

But beyond these questions, what is the point of Al Jazeera even coming to America?  Why would the Emir of Qatar go through the hassle and expense?  One theory could be that AJA is some sort of pan-Arab pride project.  And it is true that most significant regions of the world have at least one major news network.  Some have also speculated that AJA is just a vanity project on the part of the Emir of Qatar, which is possible.

One other theory, and it is speculative but worth pondering, is that AJA may be getting into the American mainstream, slowly getting accepted, so that if there is another 9-11, a war involving Israel, or some other mass terrorist event, AJA will be there to share its pro-Al Qaeda or anti-Israel side to American viewers.  Kind of an “embedded news network,” ready to propagandize at a moment’s notice. Given Al Jazeera’s past loyalties to Al Qaeda and positions against the US and Israel, it is certainly possible.

When Al Gore sold Current TV to Al Jazeera, he is reported to have said that Al Jazeera “gives a voice to those who are not typically heard,” and “speaks truth to power.” Actually, in the event of a war involving Israel or another large-scale terrorist attack against Americans, AJA will be a vehicle for arguing against speaking truth to terrorist powers. It may in fact be terrorized Americans who will be forced to speak truth to AJA.

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  • N. Wasse

    Even Egyptians regard al-Jazeera as a supporter of terrorism and terrorists and if al-Jazeera goes out of business here in the US and creeps like Ali Velshi is out of a job it would be music to my ears

    • Ade

      “if al-Jazeera goes out of business”; like that’s gonna happen. aj is the richest news conglomerate on this planet. so i would say keep dreaming?

      “even egyptians regard al jazeera as a supporter of terrorism”? nothing new. we heard it all: americans say aj is anti-american and antisemetic, hezbollah and iran say it is pro-zionism, syria says it’s pro-western, algeria says it’s anti-algeria, and the list is very very long.

      a while ago aj was criticized by some b/c it was according to them favouring israel. they even said aj sold some of its shares to an israeli businessmen.

      • N. Wasse

        Even, and to paraphrase what you wrote, Walmart ‘the richest department stores on this planet is in the habit of closing stores that are not profitable right? So the one who needs to be dreaming is you
        Ali Velshi? I hope he will be out of a job

        • Ade

          walmart has to generate money by selling goods, if a department store isn’t profitable it needs to be closed, meanwhile aljazeera has a bottomless budget and endless resources, and doesn’t need to generate profit. for your information aljazeera arabic, english, balkans, children, live and documentary do not generate money. the only channels that do are the aljazeera sports networks and the bein sport networks. so, i still would say: keep dreaming.

          • N. Wasse

            Hello no one has “bottomless” budget not even your so called Allah
            So the one who needs to keep dreaming is you

          • Ade

            wtf does god or allah has to do with this? let alone “my allah”?

            i really pitty narrow-minded people like you. did you even know that al jazeera is funded by one of america’s biggest allies in the whole world? did you know that qatar has the largest american millitary base in the m-e? did you know that qatar donated 100 milion dollars to the katrina victims? or do you only believe the propaganda that fits your ideas?

          • N. Wasse

            And I pity your likes that need to take class in Economics 101

            Your claim that Qatar and therefore al-Jazeera has bottomless funds is ridiculous.

            As for “your Allah” I stand corrected I meant “their Allah”

          • Ade

            you don’t find it strange then, in times cnn and bbc are closing their bureaus around the world, aj is expanding? “economics” are applicable on organizations that need to make profit. like i said all al jazeera channels (except the sports channels) do not make profit. how about that? why didn’t they stop these channels?

            and why aren’t you responding to the fact that qatar is one of usa’s biggest allies?

          • N. Wasse

            You must pardon me again anyone who says that there is such thing as “bottomless budgets” is clueless about micro-economics so are you that clueless?
            And you also wrote that CNN and BBC (and i will add the NYT) are closing offices and do you know why? Because their formats represent the old mass media which is becoming irrelevant and it is just a matter of time before al-Jazeera also catches up with the fact that their brand of mass media is dying and irrelevant as was proven in the case of Egypt where the reports by Egyptian bloggers (in regard to the fall of Morsi) were far better and more balanced than the reporting by Izvestia aka Pravda from Qatar aka al-Jazeera. The worst enemy of al-Jazeera is al-Jazeera itself
            And did you ask yourself how many Americans have access to premium cable so they can watch this sordid outfit al-Jazeera? Less than it used to be which is one more death blow to the likes of CNN and al-Jazeera and thanks to the internet

            And what does the fact that Qatar is one of the US biggest allies has to do with the price of peaches in Afghanistan either or even to “bottomless budgets” you tell me
            You claims are ridiculous.

          • defcon 4

            Qatar, the islamofascist state is whose ally? I’ll bet they fund islam0nazi terrorism on one hand even as they shake the hands of corrupt US politicians w/the other.

  • Rick Geiger

    Well, we have too many media outlets using this trash from terrorists. Google news (which is totally left wing anyways) uses, but then again so does the putatively conservative Hotair.com… I stopped used Hotair just because of this

  • http://historyscoper.com/ T.L. Winslow

    It’s not terrorism it’s jihad. Islam isn’t just another form of worship, it comes with the awful reality of jihad and Sharia. There’s very real historical battle lines, but due to the betrayal of our leaders, they’re being ignored, allowing advance troops to just walk in and set up shop. The more they deny the reality of jihad and Sharia, the more certain it is on the agenda. Keep up with the latest intel on my Historyscoper’s Islam Watch Blog.

  • antioli

    We now have MSNBC, the 3 networks, two Democracy Now shows PBS and CNN.
    They all are very similar in presentation and opinion. Aren’t they spreading their them selves a little thin? With out ads the Arab station may crimp the other stations .

    But then it is a very boring station.
    Want good mid east coverage try JTV “the chosen station”.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      It’s >B<SNBC.

      Bull Shiite NBC.

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        BSNBC – NOT MSNBC.

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    We saw Al Jazzera in action on 9/11.

    And that bloated bag of hot air Al Gore proves that you don’t have to be smart to become rich.

    • N. Wasse

      al-Jazeera is a despicable network that support terrorism and terrorists and is not any different from the old Izvestia and Pravda

  • D_boy

    Fox news has changed. They must have been bought out. Very left sided Rinos at best. Took them off my channel remote control.

    • justquitnow

      Nope it still owned by a australian who bought his citizenship and a saudi prince….

  • Tzuris

    When will the liberals in Canada and the USA get a clue about terrorism’s apologists?? They are simply a clever attempt at legitimizing terror. How could ANY American – other than those full of evil and hatred – believe a word broadcast on Al Jazeera?

  • crusader1

    Americans could force satellite and cable TV providers to stop carrying the Al Jazeera Network simply by CANCELLING their subscriptions to these cable/satellite TV companies. When consumers start dumping their cable/satellite subscriptions en masse, cable/satellite companies will do whatever it takes to regain their lost subscribers.
    While Al Jazeera is a threat to the West, another network called “Pivot” is perhaps even more dangerous. Pivot TV is aimed at the “Millennial Generation”, young people aged 15 to 34 years of age. Pivot offers TV comedies like “Little Mosque on the Prairie”, interactive, gender bending talk shows and other programming that promotes “social justice”, Marxist thought and the green agenda.
    Both of these networks are nothing more than subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) powerful propaganda tools meant to indoctrinate the young and the uninformed.

  • Hass

    It won’t be long before the slip up and show their true intentions. And that’s trying to turn Americans against Israel, that’s their mission.

    And all those Westerners, especially from the US, who anchor for this Terrorist supporting TV Station, are low lifes who sell out their countrymen.

  • Conniption Fitz

    ‘truth to power’? NO, more like lies to the uninformed. Islamic Taqquiya – lying for Islam.

  • Conniption Fitz

    Even CPAC has (foolishly) become an Islamic apologist group.

    • defcon 4

      “apologist”? I think it’s gone beyond that, try collaborating.

  • justanaverageguy

    No particular ethic or religious group should hold dominant power or political sway in the American news media. It should somewhat represent the ethic religious diversity of the USA. Full transparency in journalism could be provided if journalists wore a lapel pin representing their cultural and religious heritage such as a Christian cross, Star of David, Crescent Moon, etc..

    • justquitnow

      That is freakin creepy man.

      • justanaverageguy

        What’s creepy about having a balanced transparent media?

        Those who have a media megaphone need to wear NASCAR like uniforms that clearly tell the story of their religious, cultural, and political beliefs and who exactly is sponsoring them. One of the big problems we have in the USA is finding a source for an unbiased factual objective story instead of a propaganda agenda.

        • FUKUnUpUrs

          What a friggin’ Dumb@ss.

          An “unbiased factual objective story” is impossible. Now unbiased facts are possible. But if you are so stupid that you need it in story form then you need to understand that the storyteller always injects bias.

          • justanaverageguy

            When the media is DIS-informing me on something I want to know their possible motives, heritage, and inclinations. Are they zionist, muslim, Arab, gentile, buddhist, etc Our religious background has lots of influence on how and what we think and believe and want others to believe.

  • Brand

    Here is another example of forced conversions:

    “The “Convert or Die” Campaign in 1895-96 in Afghanistan against the Polytheists of Kafiristan”

    http://www.antisharia.com/2012/04/10/the-convert-or-die-campaign-in-1895-96-in-afghanistan-against-the-polytheists-of-kafiristan/

    AND ALSO

    “Evidence from the 1st Century that the Prophet of Allah called “Two-Horned” is the Conqueror Alexander the Great(Polytheist and Homosexual)( 356-323 BC)”

    http://www.antisharia.com/2013/10/16/evidence-from-the-1st-century-that-the-prophet-of-allah-called-two-horned-would-be-alexander-the-greatpolytheist-and-homosexual-356-323-bc/

    “The Myth of the Existence of Palestinian Terrorists that are Christian”

    http://www.antisharia.com/2011/04/01/the-myth-of-the-existence-of-palestinian-terrorists-that-are-christian/

  • Warren Raymond

    Its not so much that they support terrorism. They support the Islamic expansion project, and as such they are engaged in agitprop, grievance mongering, subversion, minority incitement and anything that divides us. The terror comes automatically with increasing numbers of Muslims.

  • Porkys2istan

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/kashmirtheforgottenconflict/2011/07/201176134818984961.html

    If this is any example then I’ll pass. A long boring puff piece about how 400,000 Kashmir Indians left and how their peaceful, loving muslim neighbors feel so bad about it and would just love for them all to come back.

    I call shenanigans!

  • BR

    Just one little thing to point out:The Muslim brotherhood has a long history in Egypt of supporting democratic rights and being active in social-work. They have worked in numerous charities and in the thirties built hospitals and taught people to read. They have shown themselves to be solid, community-minded people and have always opposed the mubarak regime, which has ruled through corruption, military power and brutality (which we funded). While Mubarak did encourage western-friendly policies, female equality and protection for coptic christians, he did squat for the average Muslim, letting the military generals run the economy of the country. You can’t blame the people for siding with the guys who gave them help over the guys who beat them.