Accuracy in Media

On the NBC Nightly News on July 21, reporter Jim Maceda narrated a “Listening Post” segment on the Middle East conflict that concluded that the Arab media are biased against Israel. “For most of the Arab media, there is no Israeli side of the story,” he said. This is, of course, absolutely true and demonstrates the nature of the problem that Israel and the U.S. face in the global war on Islamic radicalism. But Maceda ruined his piece by saying that the “moderate” Al-Jazeera also had slanted its coverage.

“Even more moderate media outlets like Al-Jazeera, with three reporters inside Israel, tend to see Israel using Hezbollah’s abduction of two Israeli soldiers on July 12th as an excuse to destroy Lebanon,” he reported.

Maceda, who has an impressive background covering the Middle East and other conflicts, has to know better. Is he unfamiliar with Al-Jazeera’s links to al Qaeda? And that its reporters were being arrested in Israel on suspicion of aiding Hezbollah?

Coming to the defense of Al-Jazeera on the CBS Public Eye blog site, Brian Montopoli quoted Al-Jazeera as saying its reporters were being arrested for covering the locations of Hezbollah missile strikes in Israel, but that correspondents for other networks were doing the same kind of reporting and NOT being arrested. Such reporting was said to be alerting Hezbollah to how to recalibrate its missiles to hit other locations. “It’s understandable that Israeli authorities would be more distrustful of Al-Jazeera than their homegrown press, but it makes for an uneven playing field when it comes to covering the conflict,” Montopoli said.

On the surface, it does look like Al-Jazeera was being singled out. Alleging harassment, Al-Jazeera bureau chief Walid al-Omary said, “It’s easy to bother the Arabs.” But Al-Jazeera is not just a “moderate” news outlet that simply takes a different point of view. It has a history of working hand-in-glove with the terrorists. That’s why it has been banned from democratic Iraq.

So why would authorities allow Al-Jazeera to open up a bureau in Israel? We have to believe it would only do so under very strict conditions-that the activities of its reporters would be under surveillance. And that kind of surveillance undoubtedly led to the arrests in connection with covering the war with Hezbollah. There’s a lot about this story we don’t know. For that reason, it’s a mistake to come to the defense of Al-Jazeera, considering its sordid history of collaborating with al Qaeda.

This is a channel, we must recall, that has never fully explained why its first managing director, Mohammed Jassem al-Ali, was relieved of his position. We explain what happened to him-and why-in our DVD on Terror Television. In effect, he was exposed as acting as an agent of the Saddam Hussein regime.

It was al-Ali who engineered the opening of an Al-Jazeera bureau in Jerusalem, with offices in Gaza and Ramallah. In our DVD we show Al-Jazeera staffers in Ramallah holding an anti-Bush protest and chanting “Down with fascist America.”

And this is the “moderate” channel?

Hezbollah has its television channel-Al-Manar, which was bombed by the Israelis-and al Qaeda has its channel-Al-Jazeera. To call it “moderate” is to apologize for a terrorist front. 

In this global war, it is important for our media to tell the truth about the enemies we face.

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