SPECIAL: Al Jazeera disgraced, with an American twist
Leaked diplomatic cables show Al Jazeera chief manipulated reports to favor the U.S.
Apparently, Wadah Khanfer is quite pro-American.
The truth is less glamorous. Khanfar is resigning because he has been caught in a scandal exposed by WikiLeaks. Of course, WikiLeaks isn't mentioned in the Al Jazeera report.
According to diplomatic cables exposed by WikiLeaks, Khanfar engaged in discussions with U.S. officials to skew news reports in favor of American bias. Specifically, events in Iraq were presented in a way to promote U.S. interests and Arab Spring uprisings in countries closely aligned with the U.S. have been downplayed while uprisings in anti-U.S. countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and lately Syria, have been glamorized.
The cables refer to specific examples of Khanfar having pictures changed to less inflammatory ones, and to referring to Libyan rebels as "freedom fighters" while providing minimal coverage of uprisings in countries such as Bahrain, a close U.S. ally.
The cables revealed that the U.S. exerted pressure on the news organization, and it complied. Ironically, Al Jazeera has been widely vilified in the U.S. media for allegedly stirring anti-U.S. sentiment across the Arab world. At the same time, the organization has been strategically biased in its reports, to favor the American point of view.
Such facts are revealed in the leaked cables. Cables also reveal that Khanfar wanted to keep the discussions with American officials verbal.
According to one cable he said, "The agreement was that it was a non-paper. As a news organization, we cannot sign agreements of this nature, and to have it here like this in writing is of concern to us." Despite the reservations, cables show Khanfar did as U.S. officials wanted.
One cable clearly indicated that Khanfar had two images of wounded children in a hospital removed along with another of a woman whose face had been badly disfigured by a wound, all to placate U.S. officials who were concerned at the impression they would create of long-running U.S. activity in the region.
For his part, Khanfar is dismissing the cables as, "rumors." On his Twitter account he said that he found them, "amusing."
Perhaps also amusing is the fact that he is being replaced by Sheik Ahmad bin Jasem bin Muhammad Al-Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family and a businessman--with absolutely no media experience whatsoever.
At least with the release of the cables and the royal family now firmly in control, the world knows what kind of reporting it can expect from the "world's global news leader."
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Al Jazeera, global news leader, corruption, U.S., media bias, Wadah Khanfar
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