There is a clear attempt by Western governments and their surrogates, especially Qatar, to dominate the spectrum of international network news outlets. It all began when Qatar-based Al Jazeera became the primary enemy of the Bush administration in its attempt to influence news reporting from war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq.
The United States was never really happy with Al Jazeera’s Arabic service, having militarily attacked the network’s office in Kabul in November 2001 and its Baghdad bureau in April 2003. A leaked 10 Downing Street memorandum from 2005 indicated that President George W. Bush wanted to bomb Al Jazeera’s broadcast center in Doha in 2004.
But when Al Jazeera English began broadcasting in 2006, what was a nuisance to U.S. propaganda efforts on military battlefields abroad became a problem for the United States at home. Although U.S. cable companies did their best to ban Al Jazeera English from cable television offerings, the network was being carried over a television broadcast channels in the Washington, DC area. Moreover, Al Jazeera English’s web site began attracting more and more Internet surfers. Al Jazeera’s independent reporting on the news – which was far and above that of any U.S. news network, including the one-time standard for international cable news broadcasting, CNN – was being referenced by more and more journalists and political leaders.
By the time the Barack Obama administration took over the reins of power in Washington, a new policy was adopted, one that would seek to co-opt news networks like Al Jazeera rather than attack them on the battlefield and censor them in the corporate news rooms of the United States.
Obama appointed Walter Isaacson, the former Chairman and CEO of CNN and someone who is as much a cog in the machinery of globalism and the “New World Order” as news manipulators George Soros and Rupert Murdoch, as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the oversight authority of the U.S. government for such official propaganda outlets as the Voice of America, the Arabic language Al-Hurra television network, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Isaacson said of the burgeoning number of international news networks, including Al Jazeera, RT (formerly Russia Today), and others, “We can’t allow ourselves to be out-communicated by our enemies.” Isaacson, in addition to protecting his own nest egg of U.S. government-financed propaganda networks, which include a much-hyped Radio Free Europe station broadcasting locally in Afghanistan, saw Al Jazeera, RT, and China’s CCTV as threatening the stranglehold his corporate pals at CNN, Fox News, and MS-NBC maintained over news content on the cable networks.
On March 2, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed into the debate during testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Clinton declared the United States was losing the global information war and cited Al Jazeera, CCTV, and RT as examples of networks besting the United States at televised news.
Clinton said, “We are in an information war and we are losing that war. Al Jazeera is winning, the Chinese have opened a multi-language television network, the Russians have opened up an English-language network. I’ve seen it in a few countries, and it is quite instructive.”
Although Clinton was arguing for Congress to budget more money for the old tired U.S. propaganda elephants like the Voice of America and Cold War throwbacks like Radio Free Europe, her comments, as well as those of Isaacson, signaled a more aggressive attitude by Washington toward independent news networks.
It was also apparent that some traditional sources for independent news, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and France-24, were being heavily influenced by interference from their respective governments, especially in how the networks were covering British and French foreign policy, especially toward the Middle East.
Rather than compete with Al Jazeera English, the Obama administration ensured that its editorial independence was stymied and its reporting on the news took on a more pro-American flavor. After Obama’s Middle East and Islamic “reach out” speeches in Cairo and Istanbul, Al Jazeera began overflowing with praise for Obama policies. In early 2011, as the “Arab Spring” uprisings began toppling dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, and eventually Libya, Al Jazeera began to emulate American networks, the BBC, and France-24, in favorably reporting from the field and taking the side of the revolutionaries and rebels. Nothing was reported by the network on the outside help the uprisings were receiving from the George Soros global non-governmental organization (NGO) contrivances and U.S. CIA-linked funding from the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
When rebels rose up against Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, Al Jazeera embedded its journalists with the rebels, citing massacre after massacre by Qaddafi troops but silent on grotesque violations of human rights by the rebels. When the Arab Spring moved to Syria, Al Jazeera’s reporting was much the same: massive sympathy for the Western-backed rebels but little in the way of reporting from the perspective of the government in Damascus. Al Jazeera also failed to report on its own conflicts-of-interest in reporting on Libya. Al Jazeera’s chairman is Hamad bin Thamer al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, which had committed Qatari military forces to the NATO campaign against Qaddafi and which was reaping the benefits of a Libyan rebel contract to market Libyan oil from rebel-held territory in the North African nation. A leaked U.S. State Department cable from Qatar stated that Al Jazeera served the political interests of the al-Thani family and the Qatari government, which include Qatar’s para-statal natural gas and oil companies.
Al Jazeera in Doha often featured guests from the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution office in the Qatari capital. The Saban Center is funded by Israeli-American Hollywood mogul Haim Saban, an Egyptian-born Israeli-American who touts the uber-Zionist line of Israel and its powerful lobby in the United States. Saban is also a major funder of the Democratic Party and in 2007 he and Steven Spielberg hosted a fundraiser for Mrs. Clinton at the home of Peter Chernin, the President of News Corporation, the parent of Fox News. The interlocking relationship of Clinton, Isaacson, Saban, and other neo-conservative and neo-liberal manufacturers and molders of public opinion are what lies at the heart of the attempts by they and their ilk to limit the public exposure of independent news networks around the world. Their philosophy is “if you can’t beat the competition, don’t compete with them, just co-opt and control them.”
Hillary Clinton and Isaacson were successful in “taming” Al Jazeera and bringing it around to support U.S. and western imperialistic adventures in the Middle East and even outside the region. Al Jazeera’s slanted coverage of anti-government demonstrations in Russia, following parliamentary elections, mirrored the tilted coverage by the network of the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria.
China’s CCTV remains at an early stage and has not yet shown itself to be much of a threat. Its reporters seem to know there is a line that they cannot cross in their coverage of events and until CCTV is permitted to become more independent of the authorities in Beijing, it, ironically, will not be a threat to Western interests. In some cases, RT has shown itself to be vulnerable to some of the same forces that ruined the independence of Al Jazeera, for example, having more than a reasonable number of guests who are paid by Soros without citing their ties to the international financier and his anti-Russian playbook. Iran’s Press-TV is being adversely affected by the crippling sanctions being levied by the West on Tehran and its ability to maintain foreign bureaus are suffering as a result.
However, not all is doom and gloom. Some former Al Jazeera correspondents and producers, disgusted how their former network has been co-opted by the West and Israeli interests, are launching a new news network in March, one that will be based in Beirut and free of the political chains and cob webs that have limited the journalistic independence of so many other networks. Al Mayadeen, which means “public squares,” has decided not to invite Israeli spokespeople on the air. Television networks that give Western globalist and Israeli interests more than there fair share of coverage are already too numerous and Al Mayadeen has seen the business and journalistic niche created by those networks that have surrendered to the United States in Clinton’s and Isaacson’s information war.