Skip to comments.U.S.-Funded Arab TV Channel Slams Israel
Posted on 06/20/2008 3:23:08 PM PDT by Mr. Mojo
(CBS) American taxpayers are paying for a Middle Eastern television network that broadcast an anti-Israeli diatribe as recently as last month, a joint investigation by 60 Minutes and ProPublica reveals. This, despite the fact that Al Hurra management promised Congress nearly two years ago that they would take measures to prevent such mistakes, which had occurred repeatedly before.
The joint investigation will be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday, June 22, at 7 p.m. ET/PT and be detailed on ProPublica's Web site simultaneously.
Al Hurra is headquartered in Springfield, Va.; it was created four years ago by the Bush Administration to counter what was seen as an anti-American bias at Arab satellite news channels like the Qatar-based Al Jazeera. Nearly half a billion dollars has been spent since its inception and its top executive, Brian Conniff, assures Scott Pelley things have improved editorially. "We now have a fully functioning assignment desk that views all packages and scripts I have an independent monitoring system ."
But 60 Minutes and ProPublica monitored the broadcast last month and found a Palestinian guest named Hani El-Masri on its flagship show "Free Hour" calling Israel a "racist" state that is conducting its own "Holocaust" against Palestinians. His exact quote, unchallenged by the host or balanced by another panel member, was "[Israel] is the occupying and racist state that imposes the stifling and deadly blockade and perpetrates a holocaust against 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza."
Conniff, who speaks no Arabic, says he was unaware of this and after looking into the matter, said, "Any implication that Al Hurra is anti-Israeli is absolutely wrong." Asked if this latest example is part of a pattern, Conniff tells Pelley, "No. Theres absolutely no pattern." He points out that the previous examples were discovered a year and a half ago.
At that time, members of Congress threatened to hold up funding because Al Hurra broadcast a live hour-long speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah - a group considered by the U.S. to be a terrorist organization. A few weeks later, an Al Hurra reporter named Ahmed Amin delivered a biased report from the Holocaust Deniers Conference in Tehran. He said that while some participants were sure that millions of Jews died in Germany, "the group did not reinforce their statements with scientific evidence, but instead they were content to tell stories passed on to them by their ancestors."
Soon afterward, irate members of Congress were assured that Ahmed Amin would be fired. ProPublica and 60 Minutes have learned that, 18 months later, he was still on the U.S. government payroll. He was fired only after 60 Minutes and ProPublica began inquiring.
The news director of Al Hurra who made the decisions to cover both the conference and Hezbollah speech was forced to resign. In his first interview since this controversy, Larry Register defends his decisions, telling Pelley he was trying to make Al Hurra more credible and relevant to people in the Middle East, where, according to a public opinion pollster, it gets just two percent of the audience.
"I think you [increase your audience] by becoming more credible, covering more news more aggressively, not just picking and choosing what you might want to cover because its favorable for your side versus their side," he tells Pelley. Register points out that Al Hurra means "the Free One" in Arabic. He says the Nasrallah speech was big news and he points out every other Arab channel carried it live. "I considered it newsworthy," he says.
But the chairman, up until last week, of the U.S. governments Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Al Hurra, considered it "a violation of our guidelines." Jim Glassman tells Pelley, "We are not allowed to provide a platform for terrorists .We are required to provide balance and objectivity." Glassman explains: "Our idea with Al Hurra was to create a network to provide high quality, professional journalism with American standards. I think weve done that."
But there are many critics of Al Hurra, including U.S. diplomats, who complain in internal documents about the poor quality and lack of professionalism of the Al Hurra broadcast. And former news director Larry Register says governments and journalism dont mix. "You cant make independent decisions if you have a government over you telling you what you can and cant do. Its a no-win situation, as I painfully found out," Register tells Pelley.
ProPublica is an new, independent, non-profit investigative journalism newsroom. It is led by Paul Steiger, former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.
I see....so only the American Marxist Media is ‘allowed’ to SLAM Israel!
CBS has alot of nerve to act outraged over this.
OK, I want my tax marbles back. That 1 billion bucks would sound real good on the Country and Western AM station in Coleman, Texas.
Also...how can we forget the Dan Rather love fest with Saddam before the war?
(CBS) American taxpayers are paying for a Middle Eastern television network that broadcast an anti-Israeli diatribe as recently as last month, a joint investigation by 60 Minutes and ProPublica reveals.
As we all know, the news industry is being hammered by vanishing audiences. Only 18% find their stories believable, and two-thirds think they tend to favor one side. The left thinks they were lap-dogs for Bushs war. The right thinks they are neither fair nor balanced. And, everyone is increasingly getting their news from Internet sites that defy mainstream media thinking sites that carelessly mix fact and opinion, share their readers biases, and are not as obsessed with the importance of serious public sector issues.
Now given all this, tell me if this sounds like a good idea. Why not launch a news service called ProPublica that promises to turn-around the news industrys fortunes by freely supplying them with more of the old journalism that readers are increasingly rejecting? Why not claim to be providing these outlets with superior, objective stories, while being funded by lefty partisan billionaires Herbert and Marion Sandler who are major donors of Democrats, the American Civil Liberties Union, Acorn, the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress, and MoveOn.org? Begin the service 5 months before a major Presidential election, just in time to feed stories that might steer the election? And on your first day, feature 5 areas of scandal, all of which have been typically associated with Republicans?
Now dont get me wrong. Im all for partisan news outlets that take positions compatible with their readers worldviews, and I think that is our future. But I also think the public is thirsting for news outlets that are transparent about their biases, and that no longer mislead us that they are providing objective truths. By claiming they are objective, ProPublica is providing us with the same-old same-old lie. And when industries lie, industries die.
From the ProPublica site: The Sandler Foundation has made a major, multi-year commitment to fund ProPublica. Other philanthropic contributions are being sought ahead of announcing the entity, and still others will be solicited thereafter. Activists groups funded by The Sandler Foundation also include Oceana, The Tides Foundation, which is funded by Media Matters, which is funded and supported by Center For American Progress and Moveon.org, ACORN (which has links to Social Policy:
For over 30 years, Social Policy has served as key site for intellectual exchange among progressive academics and activists from across the United States and beyond, including: Frances Fox Piven, Jonathan Kozol, Noam Chomsky, Marian Wright Edelman, Ivan Illich, Stanley Aronowitz, Michael Lerner, Gloria Steinem, and many more.ProPublica intends to distribute its work for free and will aggressively spread its influence through "regularly contacting reporters, editors and bloggers," the site says.
Al Hurra is a mouth piece of Rice’s Department of State. Her anti-Israel views is represented in her state sponsored media. We need to kick her out.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.