- A previous article discussed Al Jazeera's war on Gaddafi,
accessed through the following link:
- Discussing its recent programming, it explained how compromised
it's become. For example on Libya, it's been largely Western/Qatari propaganda,
not legitimate news, information, and analysis.
- It's Syria coverage has been similar, providing its host
country regime friendly reporting. Qatar is part of the Washington-led
NATO anti-Gaddafi coalition. Shamelessly, Al Jazeera News channel (JNC)
is on board supporting it.
- Like America's media and BBC, JNC's biased reporting
got one of its prominent journalists to resign in late April - its Beirut
chief and host of the popular Hiwar Muftuh (open dialogue) program, Ghassan
- According to the Lebanon newspaper, As-Safir, it was
to protest its recent coverage of Arab uprisings, saying:
- The broadcaster "has abandoned professionalism and
objectivity, turning from a media source into an operation room that incites
and mobilizes. Ghassan Ben Jeddo believes JNC no longer pursues....independent
and unbiased policies, and quite conversely, is in pursuit of a certain
type of (policy) regarding the brewing uprisings in the region."
- Professor AbuKhalil's Angry Arab News Service also expresses
sharp criticism of Al Jazeera's less than credible reporting. He said Bin
Jiddo resigned for the above reasons and because of the broadcaster's "recent
radical shift....in alliance with the Saudi-Israeli alliance in the Middle
East....Ghassan belongs to the Arab nationalist mold and is a fierce supporter
of resistance to Israel."
- He had great influence at JNC, nearly became director-general
before Waddah Khanfar got the job, so his resignation "will bring
further embarrassment to the network."
- AbuKhalil also said he's heard directly from others at
Al Jazeera Arabic and English that "the majority are quite irate"
about network coverage, especially on Bahrain, but also on Libya, Syria,
and elsewhere, making all of its reporting suspect.
- In late April, a report from a supposed eye-witness,
identified as dentist Mohammad Abdul Rahman, about alleged clashes between
security forces and protesters in Homs, Syria, were, in fact, fabricated.
- After its airing, the real Abdul Rahman called the Syrian
Satellite Channel. Condemning the false use of his name to provide unsubstantiated
information about Homs, he said:
- "I was surprised when one of my friends called me
saying that my name was aired on Al Jazeera as an eyewitness....I didn't
call that channel. The broadcast statement is false and is in the framework
of the huge media incitement campaign targeting Syria by this channel."
- It wasn't the first time. Another man identified as Ammar
Wahud, told JNC he was one of the protesters with information on Baniyas
demonstrations. This time, however, it backfired when on air he said:
- "There are mass protests in Baniyas but they are
all in support of President Bashar Assad." He then criticized JNC's
biased coverage but was stopped when the interview was abruptly ended.
- In mid-October 2010, the Morocco Board News Service also
condemned JNC for not covering Polisario dissident Mustapha Salma Ould
Sidi Mouloud's "odyssey from the Moroccan city of Smara, where he
voiced his support (for) the Moroccan Autonomy Plan for the Western Saraha,
to the Algerian city of Tindouf where the separatist Polisario Front arrested
him and sent him to an Algerian prison."
- Moroccans are mystified about JNC's lack of interest,
especially after its news team earlier covered stories about anti-Moroccan
activities in the region. They're also outraged about JNC's biased coverage
of human rights abuses in Morocco and Algeria, as well as siding with Algeria
on the Sahara dispute.
- "Moroccans, like other Arab viewers are starting
to see through Al Jazeera's screaming programs and theatrical discussions."
- Despite its earlier credible work, it now has a "country-by-country
a la carte agenda," picking and choosing between accurate and biased
reporting, tainting all its work in the process.
- For concerned Moroccans and others in the region, JNC's
avoidance of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud jailing by Algeria's army
provides proof of its "influenced and prejudiced policy." Featuring
other stories instead, his disappearance got short shrift.
- As a result, Moroccans are tuning out. "It will
take more than shouting matches and anti-Israeli rhetoric to convince"
- On February 21, the New Media Journal (NMJ) headlined,
"Al Jazeera and Middle East's Quest for Democracy," saying:
- What began as a noble experiment more recently deteriorated
visibly. For example:
- "During the Egyptian uprising, (JNC's) biased reporting
became even more obvious....reign(ing) in its reporters," perhaps
under pressure to do it. Now "its true colors are fast emerging. Bias
is clearly seen (in its coverage of or lack thereof) about Iran, Libya,
Sudan, Syria, Algeria, Bahrain, and, of course, its host country Qatar
and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.
- "This is indeed unfortunate and (shows) when it
comes to support(ing) democracy, (JNC was created) to give it lip service
(but instead offers) biased reporting (of the kind) it accuses America
or the American media of" doing. Unless it returns to its roots, it
"will find itself in a dead end, much like some of the dictators it
pretends not to support."
- Too often, however, JNC replicates Western reporting.
As a result, it's now part of the message presenting managed news, not
unbiased reporting. That could be its undoing, at least as a source for
real news, information and analysis, what too often it avoids.
- Even Foreign Policy took note, now a Washington Post
publication. On February 1, it headlined "The Al Jazeera Spotlight,"
- "There are various reasons why (some of JNC's coverage)
is lopsided and selective. Some of it has to do with the Qatari monarchy's
own diplomatic interests. A decade ago, Al Jazeera used to annoy the Saudi
regime fairly regularly....until Riyadh (complained to) the Qatari government."
After it intervened, "the TV network softened the nature of its reporting
toward Saudi Arabia," and also slanted its other coverage.
- Its bias largely depends on where Qatar stands and to
what degree other nations influence its positions. In other words, it's
like BBC, supporting Britain's agenda the way its founder and first general
manager, John Reith, once explained, saying:
- "(You) know (you) can trust us not to be really
- BBC never was nor has been to this day. In fact, most,
perhaps all, Western media are deeply comprised by state and commercial
interests. Increasingly it's no different on Al Jazeera.
- Now living in London and Dubai, Ghanem Nuselbeh is a
Palestinian closely following Middle East events. Interviewed by Just Journalism
on April 12, he expressed views about JNC's reporting, saying:
- As a Palestinian, he "had very high hopes for Al
Jazeera, as the region's first relatively impartial news channel....To
put things in context, we must remember that (it's) sponsored by the Qatari
government and to a large extent, is an instrument of Qatari public diplomacy."
- "Qatar is one of the West's leading regional allies,
and home to (US CENTCOM bases)....Al Jazeera has in many instances been
cutting-edge, and even revolutionary. For example, it was the first Arabic
channel to use the word 'Israel' as a noun, rather than adjective, and
to put this on the map. (JNC) also provided a platform for public debates
about topics that have hitherto been considered taboo in the Arab World."
- But its "lack of coverage of Bahrain" and other
regional countries "has undoubtedly damaged (its) image (on) the Arab
street and I think this will take a long time to mend....I have also noticed
significant variation between how (its) Arabic and English language channels
- Angry Arab News Service Comments on Al Jazeera's Syria
- April 29: JNC's "coverage has become so comically
lousy that they in fact really help (Syria's) propaganda (by) making it
easy to discredit its coverage (and the fact that its coverage seems to
be coordinated with....Al-Arabiyyah....the lousy news station of)"
Saudi King Fahd.
- April 28: "The main complaint about (JNC's) coverage
is not that it covers Arab upheavals but that its coverage is selective.
"Any person can call and claim to be a 'witness in Syria' (and get)
put on the air and allowed to say anything," without checking its
- April 25: "You see the evidence of the Saudi-Qatari
counter-revolution plot in the coverage of" Al Jazeera and (Saudi-controlled)
Al-Arabiyyah. "They used to cover everything differently. Lately,
the coverage is exactly the same: they devote the same amount of time to
the same issues and they even use similar propaganda pieces."
- April 23: "What Al Jazeera does not cover - dictatorships
of the GCC."
- April 14: Despite good Qatari - Syrian relations, JNC
"never covered Syria uncritically....But lately, there is a shift:
the coverage of the Syrian regime became more negative and government propagandists
are visibly mocked and ridiculed (which is fine if it employed the same
tactics with Saudi and NATO propagandists), and lately the channel relies
on sensational Saudi propaganda sheets for coverage."
- For example, it "cited the more sensational and
unreliable propaganda Saudi outlet, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (mouthpiec of Prince
Salman and his sons), in its reference to a 'secret Syrian intelligence'
document. (It's) so clearly made up....The paper admits it lifted it from
Facebook pages, and (its written instructions urge) goons of the regime
to kill a certain number and to even shoot at soldiers. With Saudi media,
I cite the Babylonian Talmud: they lie when they tell the truth."
Too often, Al Jazeera replicates it.
- Current Al Jazeera Reporting on Syria
- On May 1, JNC headlined, "Death toll rises as Syria
crackdown continues," saying:
- "Syrian forces have continued their military crackdown
in the flashpoint city of Deraa....shooting dead the son of (an) imam,
- Another unidentified witness said, "We are totally
besieged. It is a tragedy." Still another said, "The bullets
are flying straight over my head as we are talking. It's so close."
- JNC admitted it "could not independently corroborate
the witness accounts." Why then were unverified comments aired, besides
offering no other views.
- On May 1, JNC headlined, "Syrian protesters stay
defiant amid crackdown," saying:
- "Anti-government protesters in Syria are planning
further demonstrations....undaunted by a violent security crackdown unleashed
- Again quoting an unidentified "source," it
said "(H)undreds of people have been arrested....in Deraa. (It's)
been blockaded since Monday, when the army went in backed by snipers and
tanks....But no matter how panicked, or concerned they are, (protesters)
say their morale is still high."
- On April 30, JNC headlined, "Blood continues to
be shed in Syria," saying:
- "Amateur videos....show deadly crackdown continu(es)
in major towns," providing no information about who supplied them,
as well as no other views.
- On April 28, JNC headlined, "Syrian soldiers 'switching
allegiances,' " saying:
- Unverified "(a)mateur footage is said to show that
some troops have been shot at from within their own ranks for refusing
to fire upon protesters in the city of Deraa."
- JNC admits it "cannot independently verify the footage,"
but reports nothing about instances of armed instigators firing on and
killing security forces. Doing so anywhere, of course, generates a robust
response, even in democracies.
- A Final Comment
- Media coverage aside, the forty-year Hafez and Bashar
al-Assad dictatorship has been repressively harsh. As a result, like elsewhere
in the region, protesters genuinely want democratic reforms and social
grievances addressed. However, violence isn't how to achieve them, nor
does international law permit nations to interfere lawlessly in the internal
affairs of others, especially by inciting it for regime change.
- Leaked WikiLeaks cables show Washington secretly financed
Syrian opposition groups. Richard Perle's 1996 document, "A Clean
Break: A New Strategy for Security the Realm," recommended rolling
back its regime. Washington's National Endowment for Democracy admits being
active in the country. It operates to destabilize and oust regimes, not
democratically reform them.
- A March 30 Haaretz article reported a US-Saudi scheme
to oust Assad, and on December 19, 2006, Time magazine writer Adam Zagorin
headlined, "Syria in Bush's Cross Hairs," saying:
- "The Bush Administration has been quietly nurturing
individuals and parties opposed to the Syrian government in an effort to
undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad."
- Citing a "classified, two-page document," Zagorin
said Washington was "supporting regular meetings of internal and diaspora
Syrian activists in Europe." Moreover, US officials were funding and
maintaining "extensive contacts with a range of anti-Assad groups
in Washington, Europe and inside Syria."
- At the time, according to an unnamed US official:
- "You are forced to wonder whether we are now trying
to destabilize the Syrian government."
- Efforts then were being coordinated with the National
Salvation Front (NSF), connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. It wasn't for
democratic reforms. Though unstated, it was for regime change.
- It now appears to be playing out violently on Syrian
streets, and getting horrid media coverage explaining it, including by
Al Jazeera, airing the same type propaganda as Western media.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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