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July 14, 2011

The Huffington Post - Al Jazeera Synergy

The recent controversy over the incident of a Huffington Post reporter plagiarizing the work of an independent journalist shines a light on the popular internet news site's influence on the changing norms of journalism.

Another facet of the Huffington Post's brand of journalism is its symbiotic relationship with Qatar's state-financed news organization Al Jazeera. In early 2011, the Huffington Post ran a series of pieces supporting Al Jazeera's efforts to convince major American cable companies to carry its newscasts.

From Jan. 30 to 31 alone, Huffington Post published four pieces promoting Al Jazeera, including one by Jeff Jarvis titled "We Want our Al Jazeera English Now" which calls the decision not to carry Al Jazeera "un-American."

Another piece by Wadah Khanfar, the Director General of Al Jazeera, was a full page promotional piece for the network, citing its "Journalism of depth."

Khanfar has become something of a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, creating the unusual circumstance where the head of a foreign-based media source owned by an autocratic head of state serves as a guest columnist for a major American news organization. As Daniel Korski, of the British based Spectator magazine wrote,

it cannot be overlooked that al-Jazeera is run and funded by a state, which itself stifles dissent – a subject al-Jazeera sometimes reports on, but rarely in detail. The chairman of the network's board of directors is Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al-Thani, the former Qatari deputy minister of information.

The relationship between the Huffington Post and Al Jazeera only seems to be getting closer.

In March 2011, the Huffington Post published a piece by frequent contributor Shabina Khatri , a former Al Jazeera staffer, extolling life in Qatar, the home base of Al Jazeera. Khatri wrote "Qataris are for the most part known for living a comfortable lifestyle, and most wouldn’t dream of making a public stink about what they consider to be in-house problems in their country.”

As Cliff Kincaid, director of Accuracy in Media (AIM) and an ardent opponent of Al Jazeera's efforts to insinuate itself into mainstream American media, noticed, Khatri steered clear of a blogger named Sultan al Khalaifi, who is sitting in a Qatari prison for writing about things which the authorities apparently disapprove.


In an earlier fawning piece published by the Huffington Post on April 8, 2010, Khatri attempts to explain Qatar's "open door policy" of offering sanctuary to despicable characters like Sadam Hussein and Osama Bin-Laden. Among the pearls in this piece are the musings of Omar Abdel-Qader:

The 20-year-old, whose father now leads Hamas from Syria, works in Doha and aspires to be educated here. "Life here is comfortable - I like Qatar so much," he said. "I feel good here, the sea is next to me. I love the sea."

She concludes the piece with a quote from another Qatari journalist, Abdulazziz Al-Mahmoud concerning Qatar's "open door policy":

But that doesn't mean, Al-Mahmoud added, that the risks outweigh the benefits. "I think it's a good thing," he said. "We cannot ignore the agony of other people."

Kincaid of AIM notes that

While Al-Jazeera English does water down the anti-Semitic and pro-Jihad programming available on Al-Jazeera Arabic, the channels are owned by the same autocrat, the Emir of Qatar. And the "work" the channel has been doing in countries like Egypt mostly consists of provoking and covering riots and demonstrations. At the same time, the channel played down the role of the demonstrators in assaulting CBS News reporter Lara Logan, who suffered serious injuries.

CAMERA too has documented the unbalanced reporting and commentary of Al Jazeera in its English language service. Its Arabic language service carries programs that advance the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. It also is more openly hostile towards Jews, as portrayed by the birthday party - cake and candles included - its Lebanon affiliate threw for child-murderer, Samir Kuntar after he was released from Israeli prison.

Huff-watch is another web site that spotlights numerous examples of Huffington Post's bias against Israel and the presence of American troops in the Middle East- an agenda it shares with Al Jazeera . It too has noticed the frequent contributions from Al Jazeera staffers. Huff-watch has also demonstrated how the Huffington Post favors commenters who defame Israel and denigrate American military efforts in the Middle East and, like Al Jazeera, has a large contingent of commenters from Muslim countries.

Posted by SS at July 14, 2011 02:24 PM

Comments

I dont recognise the Al Jazeera you speak of at all. You seem to suggest that because the station does not take a right wing world view it is anti semitic or pro Sharia Law. That is not the case at all.

IN fact the programming is perhaps more balanced that most. Id place it along side BBC as clearly being influence from where its positioned but making serious attempts to reflectother voices. Its hard to say that there even is a strong conscious editorial slant - though of course there are always unconscious ones. Its certainly less dogmatic that say FOX news etc. Though given the likelyhood that News INternational journalists have been hacking 9/11 victims im not sure how much longer people will want to choose a Murdoch owned TV station

With regards "denigrat(ing) American military efforts in the Middle East" i imagine we wont see eye to eye. But it seems odd to think that there would not be a divergent point of view around illegal wars and occupation that are part of American imperialism and securing oil resources that dont belong to the USA. If it was my country id be a up in arms too.

Posted by: Mark Malone at July 14, 2011 04:24 PM

Another excellent site that exposes the Huffington Post's anti-Israel bias is http://hpmonitor.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Dan at July 14, 2011 04:57 PM

Interestingly, in Israel, many hotels get Al Jazeera in English. Once I was in such a hotel which also got the BBC.

I found that Al Jazeera was less anti Israel than the BBC. By far.

Posted by: lord garth at July 14, 2011 09:46 PM

Quote: "American imperialism and securing oil resources that dont belong to the USA"

Why is it people claim we are after the oil, yet we never seem to get an extra drop?

The only oil we get we pay for. BTW, we get more oil from Canada than any other country.

Posted by: Robin at July 15, 2011 05:13 PM

This is great news. It's about time the United States got some proper news broadcasting available inside its borders on mainstream cable. The CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News trash have dominated the "news" media in this country for far too long.

Al Jazeera is world class.

My only complaint is that they don't seem to have a HD feed yet - which makes them annoying to watch alongside the pretty HD channels of CNN, MSNBC, etc. Time to get on the HD bandwagon, Al Jazeera! I know you guys shot with all high definition equipment in a state of the art studio. Time to start pushing that HD signal out to the world.

Posted by: Faiz Ahamed at September 24, 2011 05:29 PM

You've really caputerd all the essentials in this subject area, haven't you?

Posted by: Nona at September 26, 2011 04:45 PM

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