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June 13, 2007

Al Hurra Free of Register

alhurra register resigns.gif

In the wake of last week's Congressional panel in which additional funding to the U.S. funded Arabic network was rejected because it became a platform for Islamist terrorists and Holocaust deniers, news director Larry Register resigned. Joel Mowbray updates in Powerline blog:

In the long, sordid saga of the Larry Register era at Al Hurra, which ended Friday with the news director's "resignation," what was most troubling was not all that he had done, but rather what finally did him in.

Register's masters at the State Department and the network's oversight panel, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), demonstrated remarkable tolerance for his misdeeds.

Ordering an interview with an alleged al Qaeda operative who expressed joy that 9/11 "rubbed America's nose in the dust"? No problem. Airing live speeches from the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah? Not an issue. Providing fawning coverage of Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial conference? Forgivable. Insisting that Al-Hurra refer to the creation of Israel in 1948 as "the castatrophe"? Mistakes happen.

So what was it that finally caused State and the BBG to rescind its previously unwavering support of Register? It was the great green motivator: money.

A key Congressional panel last Tuesday sent an unmistakable signal that lawmakers weren't as enamored of Register as State and the BBG, zeroing out an expected $14 million increase in Al Hurra's funding for fiscal year 2008.

That sealed Register's fate.

With Register out of the way, things are looking up for Al Hurra:

But here's the good news: The Al Hurra story could yet have a happy ending. New BBG chairman James K. Glassman was sworn in last week, and his tenure could see better behavior from the board. He has not made any public comments, but Glassman is a media veteran, and he's compiled a largely successful track record.

Most encouraging, though, is that the named replacement for Register's now-vacated post of Al Hurra news director is Danny Nassif. He won't require much of a learning curve, as Nassif already runs sister network Radio Sawa. And when the former news director, Mouafac Harb, was traveling -- which was often -- Nassif ran the show in his absence.

Though Nassif has never run a TV news operation on more than a temporary basis, a quick review of his professional writings from before starting at Radio Sawa indicates that he will take a firm stand against terrorists and Islamic extremists.

And as the BBG was quick to note in announcing his appointment, Nassif is a "native Arabic speaker," which compares favorably to Register, who didn't speak Arabic at all.

Under the new leadership of Glassman, let's hope that Nassif gets as much support from the BBG when he attempts re-build Al Hurra as Register did while almost destroying it.

Posted by TS at June 13, 2007 02:21 AM


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