Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Philadelphia Daily News Bunch Hypocritical On Al Jazeera

Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News is so worried about the potential editorial influence of a powerful investor group bidding for his own paper that he has signed a petition calling for editorial independence. Yet, he evinces none of the same concern about Al Jazeera English, which is owned by the royal family of Qatar and headed by one of their princes. He wrote yesterday on his popular blog Attywood that it is time for Comcast to offer Al Jazeera English.

I asked Will Bunch by twitter and email exactly how many hours of Al Jazeera English he had actually watched. He refused to answer that question. He tweeted,  Al-Jazeera offered REAL coverage of "Arab Spring" -- w/ no Whitney Houston cutaways. U.S. viewers deserve chance to see 

Lack of Whitney Houston cutaways are not a good enough reason to recommend a channel that promulgates hate and lionizes terrorist. His editors at the Daily News should be monitoring his posts to see that he writes about things that he possesses actual knowledge of. Bunch has confided to me in the past that his editors do not check his posts before they go live.

Living in Israel, I was able to watch many hours of Al Jazeera because all the cable companies there offer the station in their lineup. I would often turn on the station after seeing a terrorist attack on innocent civilians with my own eyes. Their reports were rife with inaccuracies and proselytism of the Palestinian cause.

Leading Israel advocate Mort Klein, who has appeared on the network, recalls his experience in an article I wrote for the Jewish Exponent. He said, "Every time that I have been on the network, the moderator is anti-Israel. Usually, I appear in a panel of three, and the other two guests are anti-Israel."

Reporting on Israel is not the only case of Al Jazeera's distorted reporting. They rarely broadcast stories that reflect Arabs in a bad light. When CBS reporter Lara Logan was viciously attacked in Tahrir Square in Egypt, the channel refused to report on it. Al Anstey, the head of Al Jazeera English disingenuously argued at the time, "Many others were hurt during the demonstrations and the network couldn't cover everyone that was hurt."

My reporter friends at the website WhoWhatWhy unsuccessfully tried to interest the channel in their headline grabbing story about the ties between the Saudi Royal Family and the 9/11 hijackers. No producer from Al Jazeera even called back to get more information. 

Since the Qatari royal family was backing the Libyan rebels, Al Jazeera never once questioned the humanitarian value of the NATO strike in Libya. Comedy Central's Jon Stewart did. 

Comcast does need to diversify the channels in its lineup, but Al Jazeera is not the way.

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