Accuracy in Media

If Jack Bauer were in charge of U.S. forces in Iraq, we would have won by now. Bauer is the tough, no-nonsense American hero who defeats America’s enemies in the popular “24” series. Bauer would have wiped the floor with al Qaeda of Iraq, the other Sunni terrorists, and the anti-American militias. They would have cried uncle a long time ago. And Bauer would have done all of this without American reporters breathing down his neck. 

Bauer will be facing some new enemies on Sunday night, when the four-hour premiere of the new season begins. Based on the previews, Bauer’s enemies this time appear to be Chinese. In real life, of course, U.S. troops are battling Islamic fascists in Iraq, Somalia and other places around the world, while the Chinese are perceived as reliable American business partners who might pose a threat sometime in the future. 

Jack Bauer battled Muslim terrorists a couple seasons ago, but the Council on American-Islamic Relations got upset and launched a pressure campaign that forced Bauer, played by actor Kiefer Sutherland, to do public service announcements making the elementary observation that not all Muslims are terrorists and that most are peaceful and moderate. Last season’s villains on “24” were anti-Russian separatists seeking an independent homeland. They were not Chechen Muslims. 

All of this is significant in light of the fact that the terror TV spin-off channel, Al-Jazeera English, recently carried a Riz Khan interview with Dr. Jack G. Shaheen, who contends that Hollywood slanders and stereotypes Arabs and Muslims as enemies of America. His new book is Reel Bad Arabs and he has a documentary out by the same name. That’s “reel” as in movie reel. After Riz Khan encouraged some flattering comments about former President Jimmy Carter, under fire for an anti-Israel bias in his new book, Shaheen made his case that Hollywood “has vilified Arabs more than any other group.” One of the clips that Khan dredged up was from the old 1976 movie Network, in which the angry anchorman makes a speech complaining about Arabs buying U.S. companies and television networks.  “The Arabs are simply buying us,” he proclaims. He urges his viewers to stick their heads out of their windows and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Shaheen labeled this a “tirade,” adding, “The premise that Arabs were buying an American television network and going to take over the United States is so ludicrous.” Network was released only three years after the Arab oil embargo of the U.S., making the subject one that touched home.  

In fact, the Network movie is more accurate than not, 30 years after it was released, because billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the fifth richest person in the world, owns a significant number of shares in Time Warner, parent of CNN, and News Corporation, parent of Fox News. Alwaleed bin Talal disclosed-and it was confirmed by News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch at his annual meeting-that the billionaire prince (worth a reported $26 billion) had convinced Fox News to change its coverage of the Muslim riots in France in 2005, in order to eliminate any mention of the religious affiliations of the rioters. Interestingly, News Corporation also published Alwaleed’s biography, written by none other than Riz Khan.

None of this was mentioned during the Al-Jazeera English interview with Shaheen because it would have undermined their farcical thesis of an anti-Arab bias in the media and Hollywood. Khan should have spent some time reading from the end of the book he wrote about the prince, in which Alwaleed’s financial portfolio is included as an appendix. In addition to News Corporation and Time Warner, he has investments in such companies as Citigroup, Apple Computer, Hewlett Packard, Kodak, Motorola, Amazon.com, eBay.com, priceline.com, Ford Motor Company, Proctor & Gamble, Pepsi, and Saks Incorporated. The back cover includes a quotation from Sandy Weill, then-chairman and chief executive officer of Citigroup, thanking the prince for using his money “to help save Citibank.” The other quotation on the back cover, in praise of Alwaleed, came from Jimmy Carter. 

Arabs, of course, are investing not only in the media but academia. In fact, the Washington Post on March 10, 2006 ran a two-page advertisement from the Prince’s main business, known as the Kingdom Holding Company, highlighting the “Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program” at Harvard University and the “Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding” at Georgetown University. The prince paid $20 million for each.

As for those influencing Hollywood, we have pointed out in one of our AIM Reports that the Steven Spielberg film Munich depicts murderous Palestinian terrorists as ordinary and thoughtful human beings. The George Clooney film, Syriana, suggests U.S. foreign policy is responsible for provoking Islamic terrorist violence, while Paradise Now, which was up for an Academy Award, glorifies would-be suicide bombers. 

The 2002 film, The Sum of All Fears, which was the movie version of the Tom Clancy book, replaced the Arab terrorist villains with neo-Nazis so as not to offend the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The pressure group, which had been in contact with those making the film, seems to have a lot of clout with those making our movies and television shows.  

I asked Jack Shaheen about Fox’s capitulation to CAIR in the “24” case and he dismissed it, saying that public service announcements about peaceful Muslims have no impact on viewers. He said CAIR, which is supported by Arab money from such figures as Saudi Prince Alwaleed, had no ability to “force” Fox to do anything it did not wish to do. He complained that “Regrettably, for two seasons, not two episodes, 24 has not only vilified overseas Arabs and Muslims but home- grown ones, as well.”  

But those villains are gone forever. And CAIR, no matter what Jack Shaheen says, played a role in banishing them. Clearly, Arab petrodollars talk-in Hollywood and the media. 

Like CAIR, people like Shaheen, Khan and television channels like Al-Jazeera English, funded by the Arab regime in Qatar, are not disinterested observers, conducting scholarly assessments or objective journalism. They are players in the global information war whose work, when taken seriously, results in America letting down more of its guard. 

Jack’s back. But I’m looking forward, perhaps in vain, to the day when he returns to battle America’s real enemies.




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