Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Al-Jazeera Television Coming To America---What Does It Mean?
With much of the American news media in decline through loss of newspaper subscriptions, loss of effective reporting on the part of some news organizations, a left leaning bias on the part of most and the explosion of new media sources for people to hear and see the news, it could be said "these are the worst of times" for the NBC's and ABC's and CBS's and the "your town Times."
However, there's a new player in town and they think "these are the best of times" to enter the American news environment.
While most American news sources are trying to advance a secular progressive agenda without appearing to do so, dependant ultimately upon ratings, dealing with stock holders who want to see profit and suffering from a healthy public distrust, the new player will deal with none of this.
Introducing Al-Jazerra television, whose launch, many believe, will forever change American news media.
You will recall that former Vice-President Al Gore sold his failing far left channel, "Current TV", to Al Jazeera for about $500 million this past January.
Al Jazeera's owner is the royal family of Qatar, an oil and gas rich Muslim Middle East country.
At first the new owners said they would simply continue broadcasting on their new American channel as they do throughout their worldwide network, with about 60% new programming from the United States.
Now all that has changed.
The impact on American culture remains to be seen.
One thing is sure. This will be a game changer in American news media.
Al Jazeera is now saying all of its programming on its newly acquired channel will originate from the United States. They say they are going to cover news that other news organizations are not covering, as well as the headlines.
The New York Times published a feature story on this matter this past weekend, explaining why they think it is significant.
Here's some further thoughts, some of which the NYT didn't publish.
1. Al Jazeera has been seen as a worldwide news organization that has, among other things, given face time and a voice to terrorists. They regularly played video taped messages from Osama bin Laden and other materials the US government felt were terrorist propaganda.
Many in the west have criticized Al Jazeera for merely being a mouthpiece for Islamic Qatar.
While they claim to be unbiased, they regularly criticize Israel while presenting Israel's enemies in a more positive way. Not unlike the American press, but perhaps less restrained.
Just last week, Al Jazeera's web site carried an anti-Semitic article. After concerns were raised here in the US, they pulled the story.
For the past number of years, Al Jazeera has tried to enter the American news market, but the major carriers and cable companies have refused to give them access to a channel. Al Gore solved that problem.
In regard to being a mouthpiece for the Muslim country of Qatar---you decide.
Al Jazeera was founded by a $147 million subsidy from the Qatar government.
They receive at least $100 million per year in subsidies to help underwrite their news operations.
Al Jazeera is owned by the Qatar royal family.
2. Al Jazeera is not merely testing the American market. They are playing for keeps.
They have unlimited funds and are coming into the American market in a big way and will immediately be available to over 60 million American homes.
The U.S. State Department has said that they feel Qatar uses Al Jazeera "as a bargaining chip in foreign policy negotiations by adapting its coverage to suit other foreign leaders and offering to cease critical transmissions in exchange for major concessions."
They are willing, and certainly able to lose money to spread their propaganda and advance their political and cultural agenda.
They know what they are doing. Their video production is excellent, their broadcast technology the best in the world, and they are focused.
They have taken over the studio space at the famous Newseum in Washington DC, the former home of ABC's "This Week" news program.
They are also opening at least 12 news bureaus throughout the US. They already have 70 bureaus around the world.
Keep in mind, Al Jazeera is owned by the Qatar royal family, rulers of one of the richest nations in the world, not affected by stock prices in their broadcasting company because they are the sole owner. With their vast income from oil and gas, there will not be a shortage of money during the start up phase and beyond for their US expansion of the broadcasting enterprise.
Also keep in mind, Qatar is ruled by Sharia, Islamic law, which is the belief of the Qatar royal family.
3. Al Jazeera will be a force to be reckoned with and will have a major impact on news coverage in the US and worldwide.
The New York Times says that Al Jazeera will be competing directly with CNN, BBC and MSNBC.
The NYT is also reporting that Al Jazeera's flagship night time program was originally to be named "Main Street Journal" but has now been changed to: "America Tonight."
Ehab Al Shihabi, who heads Al Jazeera's international operations, says he expects to hire up to 800 US employees by the time they go on the air later this year.
4. Will America "buy-in" to Al Jazeera and its programming? I think the stage is set, and they know it, for a pretty good launch.
Al Jazeera has hired a very well know, effective PR firm---Qorvis Communications. I'm told the royal family may also own that firm. They represented the country of Bahrain where there is mass torture of citizens and at least 60 people have been killed by government security forces in the past couple of years. In spite of all this, Qorvis has been able to improve Bahrain's worldwide image.
Qorvis also represented Saudi Arabia following the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
They are prepared to spend millions, perhaps tens of millions of dollars to paint the proper picture of Al Jazeera to the American people.
And there is already a segment of people in our country who, for various reasons, hate America and Israel. People like Rev. Jeremiah Wright and a host of far left cultural Marxist professors in our universities---and those students whom they have indoctrinated. Al Jazeera's initial soft approach will not offend them, but as the broadcast narrative begins to change, they will be drawn in. This Islamic broadcast enterprise has the ability to tell a story that some will believe.
They will seek to incrementally change minds and hearts.
Al Jazeera will sign on the air later this year with a great deal of fanfare, and they will do so in the spirit of Norman Rockwell and his classic American paintings.
And folks will watch and say, "See, they're not critical of America or Israel and they are not trying to advance their Islamic beliefs. And they're not biased---they're fair and balanced."
And that may be true---in the beginning.
But over time that will change. These people have a history and it isn't one of operating a news organization to make money---or to be fair and balanced.
These folks have an agenda and it isn't advancing the principles of America's Founding Fathers.
They have a vision, but it doesn't include American exceptionalism.
They also have a deeply held faith, rooted in the Koran, which stands in stark contrast to the principles and values of Christianity.
The Koran says, "Muhammad is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another" (Quran 48:29, "Victory," Dawood, p. 514).
The Bible quoting Jesus, "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:43,44).
A striking contrast.
Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.