Accuracy in Media

Having praised Al-Jazeera English for its coverage of the demonstrations in Egypt, some American liberals are now backpedaling. They are outraged that the channel they praised so much has covered up the sexual assault on CBS News reporter Lara Logan.

The network’s mantra is, “The heart of the story. Every Angle. Every Side.” But that’s “less believable now” because of the failure of the channel to cover the attack on Logan, says Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post, a leading liberal commentator. The silence of the network on this matter is “deafening,” he said.

American media personalities such as Sam Donaldson of ABC News and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC have praised Al-Jazeera for its coverage of the demonstrations in the Arab country. Such comments have been cited in full-page ads the channel has taken out in The New York Times and Washington Post as part of its “Demand Al-Jazeera in the USA Campaign.”

The assault on Logan occurred on February 11. “She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers,” CBS reported. “Logan left the hospital on Wed. Feb. 16, to recover in her Washington, D.C. home. She received a call from President Obama expressing his concern.”

Capehart didn’t believe Al-Jazeera’s explanation that it was simply respecting the CBS News reporter’s privacy and didn’t want the conduct of reporters covering the riots to be part of the overall story. “I’m at a loss for what would drive a news network to ignore news,” he said.

One blogger commented, “The lack of coverage is not only shocking, it is unethical. After having reported and given air time to the situation facing its reporters, it appears Al Jazeera was not willing to give the same due time to a rival reporter, one enduring arguably a worse experience. It is unacceptable that the Qatar-based network remained, and remains, silent.”

The blogger added, “By not covering the situation, Al Jazeera made a political decision. They seemed to gloss over the story for fear it would tarnish the Egyptian Revolution.”

Al-Jazeera is based in and financed by the oil-rich monarchy in Qatar, an authoritarian regime that has managed to avoid the demonstrations that are plaguing other countries in the Middle East. This may be because Al-Jazeera has carefully avoided subjecting its financial patron and sponsor to the kind of serious investigative reporting it applies to other governments in the region.

The U.S. State Department notes that the government of Qatar exercises “editorial and programmatic control of the [Al-Jazeera] channel through funding and selection of the station’s management.”

The Post’s Capehart said the Al-Jazeera official responsible for the cover-up of the Logan assault is Heather Allan, Head of News Gathering for Al-Jazeera English, who has a career spanning 30 years with NBC News.

The cover-up may give U.S. cable and satellite providers second thoughts about giving the channel more access to the American media market.

Brian Stelter of the New York Times reported on February 6 that Al-Jazeera hoped that its coverage of Egypt would trigger more such access. “Since its inception in 2006, Al Jazeera English has been fighting for access to American viewers,” Stelter said. “Distributors have been unwilling to carry the service…” However, Al-Jazeera was now hopeful that it would get on more cable and satellite systems and was talking to “major distributors” about carriage, he said. “There’s a growing call for Al Jazeera,” one official told him.

Al-Jazeera’s code of ethics declares that it will “Adhere to the journalistic values of honesty, courage, fairness, balance, independence, credibility and diversity, giving no priority to commercial or political over professional consideration.”

But when it came to a sexual assault carried out by protesters that it had glorified in its coverage of the riots in Egypt, Al-Jazeera violated its own ethical guidelines.

Perhaps the liberal media will now come to grips with the fact that Al-Jazeera isn’t the independent and objective network it claims to be.

We look forward to Sam Donaldson and Rachel Maddow disavowing their praise of the pro-terrorist channel.

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