Al Jazeera exposed as only a political tool?

Thac0man

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I am a fan of Al Jazeera and would watch it most days. But a recent Wikileak puts a huge question mark over the outlets credability. Amongst the documents leaked on Sunday is one claiming that Qatar offered Egypt a softening up of Al Jazeera coverage and criticism of Egypt if it delivered a lasting solution for the Palestinians.

Qatar is allegedly using the al-Jazeera news network as a bargaining chip, apparently promising Egypt that it would cease the network's transmission there for a year if President Hosni Mubarak agreed to deliver "a lasting settlement for the Palestinians"
Taken from here:

BBC News - List of facilities 'vital to US security' leaked

Now I could argue that Qatar is acting in the best interests of some and with noble intent. But does this ability to deploy the al Jazeera network seemingly at will against opponents as a political bargaining chip mean Al Jazeera itself can no longer be considered neutral or endowed with a shred of editorial credability?

Now to be fair I only watch Al Jazeera English. Al Jazeera Arabic is considered by some (Robert Fisk amongst them) to be pure poisen and gutter journalism. But there remains a question mark now over the entire network.

For instance I think Al Jazeera does a great job in covering regions Western media is not used to covering (its People and POwer series is often very very good).

BUT implicit in this leaked information is that the activity of Al Jazeera only selectively covers issues of human rights and justice. It can be assumed that if someone is willing to tow the line the Qatar Royal family wish them too, then Al Jazeera will leave them alone. That amounts to tacit support. If Egypt tows the Qatari line Mubarack and his ruling party will get more favourable coverage from Al Jazeera, or at the very least remove one of the few outlets for criticism of the Egyptian regime at home.

If these allagations are true then Al Jazeera has been, maybe since its inception, a part of the practice of regional Mid East censorship, rather than an exception to it.

As I said I do watch Al Jazeera regularly. But I have been concerned for some time at the glaring holes in its coverage, especially with regard to Pakistan. It happily presents Hamid Gul, a Taliban spokesman, as the voice of Pakistani opposition. Yet never addresses government corruption and the existance of slavery and the Opium trade in Pakistan, in which all sides seem implicated and profit from. The rights of Berber peoples is another issue aswell as Western Sahara. Taken together this lack of coverage over time seems to fit with Qatari pro-Arabist sympathies, which again demotes Al Jazeeras credability as an impartial network, whether in English or Arabic.
 
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Trampas

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Taken together this lack of coverage over time seems to fit with Qatari pro-Arabist sympathies, which again demotes Al Jazeeras credability as an impartial network, whether in English or Arabic.

I have to say that I wasn't aware of Al Jazeera having any such credibililty, other than among the terminally gullible.
 

Interista

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Now to be fair I only watch Al Jazeera English.
In which case your comments aren't really relevant, since the leak was concerned with the Arabic Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera Arabic is considered by some (Robert Fisk amongst them) to be pure poisen and gutter journalism.
Like most journalists who offer opinions on Al Jazeera, Fisk does not speak Arabic, or at least, nowhere near well enough to be able to give an informed first-hand opinion on it. This, despite the fact that he has lived in the Arab world for 20 years.

In any case, most people who can actually follow Al Jazeera agree that it is far superior to its rival Arabic networks in just about every way, despite the hysteria generated by those famous Arabic speakers, Donald Rumsfeld and D1ck Cheney.

BUT implicit in this leaked information is that the activity of Al Jazeera only selectively covers issues of human rights and justice.
As opposed to all the other news channels, who are scrupulously balanced in their coverage of such issues?
If these allagations are true then Al Jazeera has been, maybe since its inception, a part of the practice of regional Mid East censorship, rather than an exception to it.
Like most of the wikileaks, this one only really confirms what most observers already suspected. It's long been known that Al JAzeera, though much better than its rivals, is by no means free of censorship and is still subject to some degree of pressure from the Qatar rulers. Its softening of its coverage towards Saudi Arabia a few years ago is one well known example of this.

There is still no doubt, among most viewers of Arabic TV, that Al J is far superior to its mostly Saudi sponsored rivals and has been a very important social phenonmon in the Arab world, causing other channels to pull their socks up in an effort to compete with it.

Qatari pro-Arabist sympathies,
Yup - Qatar is so 'pro-Arabist' that it effectively has diplomatic relations with Israel and allowed the US propaganda mission to be based there when the US was bombing Qatar's Arab neighbour.

which again demotes Al Jazeeras credability as an impartial network, whether in English or Arabic.
So in your mind, what TV news channel, in any language, has 'credability' for being 'impartial'?
 

jcdf

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Thac0man no media outlet can ever be entirely independent or impartial. The news network is a part of the world and must therefore exist somewhere in the world. Within a nation state somewhere. The network must have the passive approval of nation from which it operates. Remember no nation is independent of all the others. Even with the internet this is the case.

Al Jazeera depends on Qatar. It will not directly go against the wishes of Qatar rulers. Al Jazeera is still a good station though. Particularly when covering events outside of the Middle East. My reasoning for this is that the people and therefore rulers of Qatar and some neighbouring countries have played an extremely passive role in the past few hundred years of human history. They were not part of any of the major conflicts or ideologies or wars and consequently have few vested interests outside of their own backyard. This does not make them entirely impartial but it does make them more impartial to the regions that count than news agencies of the Americans, Chinese, Europeans or Russians etc.
 

Winalot

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It is as much Islamic propaganda as Fox News is for the Christian fundamentalists.
 

Cael

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Every media organ, of any description, is, by definition, a political tool for some agenda.
 

Interista

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It is as much Islamic propaganda as Fox News is for the Christian fundamentalists.
Have you ever actually watched Al Jazeera Arabic?

The female presenters often wear more make-up even than RTE presenters (and we know how they like to plaster it on!) Many women report from war zones. Al Jazeera most certainly is not Islamist in its outlook: The idea that it is comes from people who don't know a word of Arabic and who for obvious reasons, want to tarnish the reputation of what is still by far the most independent TV news source in the Arab world.
 

Thac0man

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I have to say that I wasn't aware of Al Jazeera having any such credibililty, other than among the terminally gullible.
Alot has been implied about Al Jazeera. But most that we in the West are aware of is US hostility to the network. That of course endowed the network with solid credability in the eyes of a few useful idiots and political chimps.

But for some time Arab and Muslim regimes have been making representations towards Qatar, lobbying for the network to be less negitive in its reporting of them. That of course is less well documented in Western circles. Qartar has been able to brush off such requests till now by denying control of Al Jazeera.

This US cable though is the first actual proof (or suggestion of proof) that the Qatari Royal Family has direct influence over the editorial line of Al Jazeera. As such the network itself is a political tool.

PressTV (iran), CCTV (china) and RT (Russia) are known funded mouth pieces of their respective paymasters. But until now Al Jazeera has operated with the accepatance of the wider media, that it is to a large degree neutral and driven by its editorial line. With the Qatari Royal family now shown to be able to shut off certain coverage in exchange for favours, that is clearly not the case now.

The upshot of this is that when the likes of Kuwait, Pakistan or Libya ask the Qatari Royal family to get Al Jazeera to ease up, the Qatari Royals can't refuse by pleading ignorance. In fact a refusal would imply that they are acting aggressively towards their neighbours. Al Jazeera is now a part of the regional diplomatic equation, not apart from it observing.

The revelation may already have had an effect. I linked ot the BBC story about the leaks on Sunday above. Al Jazeera covers the same story of course, it just omits the part of the leaks that concerned Qatars control over Al Jazeera:

Cable shows US global security list - Americas - Al Jazeera English

That ommision alone does alot of damage to Al Jazeera. Its beyond censorship, its selective reporting. But in this instance the selective nature of the report protects Qatar and Al Jazeera itself.
 

Rocky

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Have you ever actually watched Al Jazeera Arabic?

The female presenters often wear more make-up even than RTE presenters (and we know how they like to plaster it on!) Many women report from war zones. Al Jazeera most certainly is not Islamist in its outlook: The idea that it is comes from people who don't know a word of Arabic and who for obvious reasons, want to tarnish the reputation of what is still by far the most independent TV news source in the Arab world.
How's your Arabic Interista?

I ask because your whole argument seems to be based on the notion that people who can't speak Arabic can't judge the station.
 

Cael

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Alot has been implied about Al Jazeera. But most that we in the West are aware of is US hostility to the network. That of course endowed the network with solid credability in the eyes of a few useful idiots and political chimps.
You mean "hostility" like murdering Al Jazeera journalists and shelling their offices? Ya, thats pretty hostile all right...
 

Cael

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But for some time Arab and Muslim regimes have been making representations towards Qatar, lobbying for the network to be less negitive in its reporting of them.
You mean like the way Brian Lenihan wrote to RTÉ and ordered it to give FF better copy?
 

Cael

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What a standard to have to live up to! :lol:
It certainly couldnt be a lower standard then the media in Europe and the US.
 

Cael

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Generally speaking, no media outlet is dependable on issues that are close to its owners. Al Jazeera is good on south American issues, because it can afford to be fairly neutral there. US media are worthless on South America, because the US has its continuing imperial aggression there. And so it goes.
 

Interista

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How's your Arabic Interista?

I ask because your whole argument seems to be based on the notion that people who can't speak Arabic can't judge the station.
My Arabic is basic.

And of course if you don't speak the language you cant' judge it! If a non English speaker offered first-hand opinions on the BBC, would you take them seriously?

If you read the analyses by people who do speak Arabic and are familiar with TV news channels in the Arabic world, you will find that the general view is that Al Jazeera is very professional and certainly not deserving of the ridiculous notion that it is 'Islamist' in orientation - though as I said, a glance at its many female presenters would be enough to dispell that notion.
 

Cael

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Ball-der-dash.
The problem is that you swallow every garbage you are fed from the western media without even thinking.
 

Thac0man

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Have you ever actually watched Al Jazeera Arabic?

The female presenters often wear more make-up even than RTE presenters (and we know how they like to plaster it on!) Many women report from war zones. Al Jazeera most certainly is not Islamist in its outlook: The idea that it is comes from people who don't know a word of Arabic and who for obvious reasons, want to tarnish the reputation of what is still by far the most independent TV news source in the Arab world.
I refer you to the OP. Al Jazeera carries two very different messages, one on its English broadcast, the other in Arabic. The English version is tailored to apperal to Western perceptions and judging by your reaction and defence of it, that is a ploy that has worked.

Al Jazeera is not independent and it can no longer be argued that it ever was. Simple as that. I refer you to my post above for the reasons for that.

The one question that perhaps remains is to what extent aggrieved neighbours will demands recompence from Qatar for Al Jazeera criticism of them - as that very criticism can now be deemed to have been a deliberate poltical swipe. I think there can be little doubt that Al Jazeera will undergo a change to its 'editorial line' to meet the new demands of the Qatar Royals if they are pressed diplomatically.
 

Cael

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My Arabic is basic.

And of course if you don't speak the language you cant' judge it! If a non English speaker offered first-hand opinions on the BBC, would you take them seriously?

If you read the analyses by people who do speak Arabic and are familiar with TV news channels in the Arabic world, you will find that the general view is that Al Jazeera is very professional and certainly not deserving of the ridiculous notion that it is 'Islamist' in orientation - though as I said, a glance at its many female presenters would be enough to dispell that notion.
You know we have "Irish" historians who cant even read Irish. That's how pathetic some of these people are.
 

Cael

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Al Jazeera is not independent and it can no longer be argued that it ever was. Simple as that.
Correct. There is no such thing as an independent media outlet. There never was. This thread is simply stating the obvious.
 


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