Al-Jazeera Hosts Academics

, Cliff Kincaid, Leave a comment

The Al-Jazeera terror TV channel “forum” in Doha, Qatar, not only hosted a top leader of the Hamas terrorist group, but several American commentators and professors of journalism and political science.

Americans attending this event were Steve Clemons, author of The Washington Note blog; Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Marc Lynch, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University; and Philip Seib, Professor of Journalism and Public Diplomacy and Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California.

Some credit has to go to leftist American journalist Danny Schechter, who also attended the Al-Jazeera Forum as a “guest” of the channel and has filed a dispatch boasting about the luxurious accommodations. He describes being at “the opulent Sheraton Hotel” with other journalists and asking, “…why not some luxury for these media warriors?”

He goes on, “Why shouldn’t some of the gazillions earned in Qatar from fuelling the cars of the West go into funding Middle East movements for justice?”

How’s that as a rationale for taking money from an Arab dictator?

Schechter not only boosts Al-Jazeera, but has appeared several times on Russia Today (RT) television, which is funded by Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Meanwhile, another puff-piece on Al-Jazeera, depicting the channel as a courageous, independent, and honest source of news, is being distributed by Reuters news service. Al Anstey, managing director of Al-Jazeera’s English-language channel, is quoted as saying that his financial benefactor, the regime in Qatar run by an oil-rich monarch, has zero input over the news product. “There’s been no interaction from Qatar whatsoever,” he says.

Not even the State Department of Hillary Clinton, a booster of the network, believes that to be the case. The latest available State Department human rights report notes, “Al Jazeera and the government claimed that the channel was independent and free of government influence, but the government exercised editorial and programmatic control of the channel through funding and selection of the station’s management.”

This should not be a surprise. Al-Jazeera is an Arab government-funded channel. The government in this case is run by the emir of Qatar, who pays the bills (and Anstey’s salary and the costs of the Al-Jazeera Forum.)

Anstey apparently finds it necessary to misrepresent Al-Jazeera’s government connection because he is leading the charge to have Comcast and other cable and satellite systems carry the channel.

During an appearance on CNN, Anstey claimed, “We are categorically anti-nothing, and pro-nothing. Our job is journalistic, to cover the facts on the ground and cover the whole story.”

But so far I can find no Al-Jazeera English story about the massacre of the Israeli family by Palestinians. Similarly, Al-Jazeera ignored the assault on CBS News correspondent Lara Logan during the riots in Egypt.

The “whole story” was also lacking in a piece that Schechter wrote for the Al-Jazeera English website, in which he defended anti-Semitic former White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Under the headline, “Helen Thomas: Thrown to the wolves,” Schechter said that Thomas’s career-ending statements about Israel and the Jews began when she used “inelegant language” in response “to an ambush interview by provocateur father-son Israeli advocates posing as journalists.”

In fact, Thomas was throwing the Jews to the wolves. As Roger Aronoff of AIM noted, “Thomas said the Jews ought to ‘get the hell out of Palestine’ and presumably turn the land over to the Arabs and Muslims. She also said they should return to countries like Germany and Poland, where the Holocaust took place, which ultimately led to the creation of the Jewish homeland in Israel.”

The “provocateur father-son Israeli advocates” were no such thing. As Aronoff points out, Rabbi David Nesenoff and his son and a friend had simply attended a White House ceremony honoring Jewish Heritage Week and were asking people on camera for their views of Israel. “They openly had a camera as Helen Thomas passed by,” he noted. “He simply asked the question, ‘Any comments on Israel?’ Expecting perhaps to hear something in support of Israel and the Jews, instead Thomas was venomous.” Nesenoff and his son are bloggers.

Why was it necessary for Schechter to defend the anti-Semite Thomas and attack a Rabbi and his son? Perhaps because that is what the Al-Jazeera audience wants to hear.

To understand what the Al-Jazeera audience is all about, consider Richard Falk’s new column on the Al-Jazeera English website, where it is asked, “Is it possible that the nuclear meltdown in Japan is linked to a Faustian bargain with the West?

Falk, identified as “a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights,” not only suggests that the United States had no need to use nuclear weapons on Japan to end World War II, but encouraged countries to accept a “Faustian bargain” that they could give up nuclear weapons in exchange for using nuclear power as an energy source. He claims this has resulted in the spectacle of “greedy profit-seekers” and “predatory forces” in the West now exploiting the nuclear accident in Japan and blaming the victims.

Always controversial, Falk wrote the foreword to David Ray Griffin’s 9/11 book, The New Pearl Harbor, which argues that, despite the statements of eyewitnesses, a Boeing 757 (Flight 77) did not strike the Pentagon on 9/11.

Although Falk claims that he does not endorse the theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, President Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, was compelled to issue a statement after he wrote a blog post on the topic. Rice cited evidence that Falk “endorses the slurs of conspiracy theorists who allege that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were perpetrated and then covered up by the U.S. government and media.” She went on, “In my view, Mr. Falk’s latest commentary is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the UN.”

Falk not only remains at the U.N. but is considered worthy of publication on the Al-Jazeera website. He also contributes regularly to the Huffington Post.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at