Good News: Comcast Slams Door on Al-Jazeera
By Cliff Kincaid
In good news for the American people but bad news for NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, a vice president for Comcast is now on the record saying that the cable giant is not negotiating to carry the terror TV channel Al-Jazeera in more U.S. media markets.
“We do not have an agreement with this service that would permit us to carry Al Jazeera English on our cable systems and Comcast is not currently in active talks to complete such an agreement,” says David A. Jensen, Vice President for Content Acquisition at Comcast. His April 15 letter was in response to an Accuracy in Media supporter by the name of Jeffrey Smith, who had sent a letter to the cable company objecting to the possibility of al-Jazeera getting more carriage. Smith made the Comcast letter available to us for publication at this time.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent, will no doubt be disappointed at the announcement. She recently told the Atlantic, “I think Al-Jazeera has become indispensable. There’s a big difference between Al-Jazeera overseas and Al-Jazeera English but they are clearly part of the story and I rely on them very heavily, as does the State Department. I think the channel ought to be available more widely in the U.S. given the work they've been doing in Tunisia, Libya and certainly Egypt.”
While Al-Jazeera English does water down the anti-Semitic and pro-Jihad programming available on Al-Jazeera Arabic, the channels are owned by the same autocrat, the Emir of Qatar. And the “work” the channel has been doing in countries like Egypt mostly consists of provoking and covering riots and demonstrations. At the same time, the channel played down the role of the demonstrators in assaulting CBS News reporter Lara Logan, who suffered serious injuries.
At the news that Mitchell wants to see the channel’s influence expand, a blogger at www.fireandreamitchell.com commented, “Why am I not surprised? NBC/MSNBC hack Andrea Mitchell loves her Al Jazeera. The anti-America, anti-Semitic network has suddenly become the choice for far left progressive liberals. Hillary Clinton loves Al Jazeera, Obama and his State Department love the network, why wouldn’t she? NBC is basically an arm of the Obama regime anyway.”
By contrast, Huffington Post blogger Michael Calderone is an enthusiastic backer of the Arab government-funded network. He reports that while the network is “taking steps to move further into the mainstream U.S. journalistic establishment,” it is also planning to open two new domestic bureaus this year -- in Chicago and Miami -- and has announced a journalism fellowship with Columbia University that will send two graduate students to Doha, Qatar each year.
Indeed, in what has been described as “the first partnership between Al Jazeera English and a university in the United States,” Nicholas Lemann, Dean of the Columbia Journalism School, said that the journalism fellows will work in the Al-Jazeera English newsroom for 12 weeks, reporting directly to senior members of the news and programming departments. They apparently will be paid by the same regime that finances Al-Jazeera itself.
The announcement makes no mention of the fact that the channel is funded by the regime in Qatar and has developed a reputation over the years as a mouthpiece for terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah.
Lemann is a former correspondent for the Washington Post, while the president of Columbia University, Lee C. Bollinger, is a member of the board of the Washington Post Company.
Calderone adds, “Al Jazeera English doesn't just want to partner with journalism schools, where a new generation of reporters are honing their craft. It also hopes to become increasingly a part of conversations stateside about the future of the media -- whether online, on cable, or on social media platforms. Next month, Al Jazeera English is holding its first U.S. forum, a two-day event at the Newseum. Its topic: ‘The new age of journalism.’”
If this is the case, it would mark a new and radical departure for the Newseum, a privately-funded entity that celebrates the First Amendment and the separation of state and press. By contrast, Al-Jazeera is completely state-funded and refuses to subject its sponsoring regime in Qatar to any serious scrutiny. If this is the model for the “new age of journalism,” news consumers around the world are destined to be the losers.
Nevertheless, armed with the seemingly unlimited petro dollars of the Emir of Qatar, Al-Jazeera continues to demand carriage in U.S. media markets and has published a list of articles from the U.S. press about its desire for respectability.
The Huffington Post alone has published eight articles on behalf of the channel, including one titled, “Jews for Al-Jazeera.” The author is identified as a political strategist, writer, and humorist.