On the same day that the Al Jazeera network opened its U.S. outlet, a longtime opponent warned American viewers to be on guard against the television colossus and its sympathy to the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist organizations.
"Al Jazeera is government-funded media — the government being that of the regime in Qatar, which is a state sponsor of terrorism," Cliff Kincaid, of the America's Survival group that is dedicated to "the fight against global Jihad," told a conference at the National Press Club on Tuesday.
Using a slide presentation, Kincaid cited reports that 22 staffers from Al Jazeera's Egyptian affiliate resigned to protest what they called the network's "biased coverage" in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, which deposed President Mohamed Morsi belongs to.
At the time, Karem Mahmoud, formerly anchor at Al Jazeera's Egypt operations, told Gulf News that "the management in Doha provokes sedition among the Egyptian people and has an agenda against Egypt and other Arab countries."
Mahmoud charged that before every broadcast he made, "there are instructions to us to telecast certain news" that casts the Muslim Brotherhood in a favorable light.
His views were strongly seconded by Haggag Salama, formerly a correspondent for Al Jazeera based in Luxor, Egypt. Salama, according to Gulf News, charged that Al Jazeera's Egyptian network is "airing lies and misleading viewers."
In citing the protest resignations from Al Jazeera, Kincaid noted reports from Middle East journalist and scholar Raymond Ibrahim, who wrote that the network's news "even sometimes portray the very large masses of anti-Morsi protesters as pro-Morsi protesters."
Kincaid noted Al Jazeera's coverage of the assault of CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan in Cairo's Tahrir Square in February 2011. While covering the downfall of then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Logan was beaten, dragged on the ground, and sexually assaulted. Her revelations of the assault a few days later were worldwide news and, upon returning to the U.S., Logan was contacted by President Barack Obama.
"But Al Jazeera ignored Lara Logan's story," said Kincaid, citing a subsequent explanation from the Qatari network's Heather Allen that Logan's assault was ignored "out of respect for privacy."
Kincaid has long tried to get House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, to conduct hearings on Al Jazeera and investigate if they are dispensing Muslim propaganda and slanted news in the U.S. and are tied to terrorist groups.
So far, his requests have fallen on deaf ears. Kincaid blames this on the network's retention of the high-powered lobbying firm DLA Piper, which oversaw Al Jazeera's purchase of former Vice President Al Gore's Current TV cable network for an estimated $500 million.
In recent years, Al Jazeera has hired several noted newscasters and reporters from American networks, notably one-time CNN reporter Soledad O'Brien. In addition, Great Britain's Sir David Frost, one of the most-respected interviewers for four decades, now presents the "Frost Interview" on Al Jazeera.
"Obviously, that's what money will buy," said Kincaid, "but they ought to realize where the money is coming from."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax
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