A former Marine named Josh Rushing has made headlines by joining Al-Jazeera International, its 24-hour English-language channel that is scheduled to air early next year. The Friends of Al-Jazeera has run an article noting that “Rushing famously resigned from the U.S. Marines after a conflict with the Pentagon and has gone on to become one of the most critical voices in broadcast and print media about the invasion of Iraq. For his part, Rushing said during the war in Iraq, he witnessed how the U.S. media was coopted by the U.S. government’s messaging.”
The story quoted Rushing as saying, “I am proud to be part of a news network that believes in the power of the unspun truth.”
But that’s not what he told Jamie Gangel of NBC News. He admitted the channel was biased, saying, “If I wrote off Al-Jazeera because they’re biased, I’m afraid I’d have to write off not just American media, but maybe the world’s media. Show me a news station that doesn’t have some kind of biasness in it. I think it’s impossible.”
In the movie “Control Room,” an inside look at Al-Jazeera, Rushing lets his own bias slip out, saying, “If I get out of the Marine corps and I do anything, I want to do something with the Palestinian issue. I don’t think Americans are getting good information about it. I really don’t.”
The anti-Israel Washington Report on Middle East Affairs said this comment suggested the true nature of Rushing’s “viewpoint” on Middle Eastern affairs. We don’t know what this means, but it doesn’t sound good.
On October 8, Al-Jazeera had something nice to say about another ex-Marine. Its website ran a story about Scott Ritter saying that “US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair acted much like Nazi war criminals in ordering the invasion of Iraq?” In an address at the Chatham House think-tank in London, Ritter said that “Both these men could be pulled up as war criminals for engaging in actions that we condemned Germany [for] in 1946.”
We hope that what happened to Ritter has not happened to Rushing.
Once a weapons inspector in Iraq, Ritter turned around and became a loud-mouthed critic of the U.S. government. He took $400,000 from an Iraqi-American to produce a video defending Iraq. He was also caught using the Internet to try to arrange a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
We still don’t know how much Al-Jazeera is paying Rushing. Whatever the amount, it’s blood money. Ritter has ruined his career. Rushing should have the sense not to ruin his. He still has time to pull out of the deal.