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The Fox Effect

January 14th 2013


It is nothing if not disorienting to live in times when a former Vice President of the United States finds the deeply patriotic, Constitution-respecting worldview of Glenn Beck to be political anathema in direct comparison with that of the sharia-compliant Qatari dictatorship that owns and controls Al Jazeera, better known as "the Muslim Brotherhood channel." I'm referring to Gore's decision to sell Current TV to Al Jazeera and not Beck's The Blaze TV, a subject that has occupied this blog this week.

By the way, "controls" is the appropriate verb to describe how the muscular little dictatorship runs its international media org. Qatar, after all, is a country Freedom House deems "not free" where, as reported in Freedom House's the 2012 Freedom of the Press Report, it is against the law for journalists to "criticize the Qatari government, the ruling family or Islam." The country's seven newspapers are all owned by the ruling family or its business associates, while "the state [i.e., the ruling family] owns and operates all broadcast media." That would include the country's two TV networks, Al Jazeera and Qatar TV. As for the Internet, "the government censors political, religious, and pornographic content through the sole, state-owned internet service provider." Interestingly enough, Qatari totalitarians are harder on foreigners than nationals when it comes infringements on goverenment speech controls. As Freedom House reports: "While local reporters often receive warnings and threats when they push the limits of permissible coverage, noncitizens employed by Qatari media outlets risk harsher repercussions, including termination, deportation, and imprisonment."

What was that Al Gore said about how Al Jazeera shared Current TV's mission "to give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling"?

King Dupe or Evil Al strikes again.

Qatar has been one of the most aggressive drivers of the so-called Arab Spring (cheered on uncritically by Al Jazeera), which, of course, has seen the rise, if not installation into seats of power, of Muslim Brotherhood and related forces over the past couple of years. The Muslim Brotherhood's endgoal, shared by many other Islamic organizations, is to re-engineer an Islamic caliphate. While much of Qatar's aggression is behind the scenes, worth noting is the emir's visit to Gaza in October 2012 where he pledged $400 million to Hamas, a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, just for the record, it is worth recalling that Glenn Beck, as a Fox host, openly discussed his concerns about a looming caliphate -- for which he was widely criticized as paranoid -- and trumpeted his support for Israel toward the end of his contract.

Indeed, it's hard not to wonder whether Beck's soap-boxing of such issues (the caliphate, Israel) figured into the decision to drop Beck by Fox, which has revelled in broadcasting some but not all the fulsome details of the Gore-Qatari deal -- the subject of this week's column titled "Is Saudi Prince Steering News Corp. Coverage?"

Given space constraints, I was unable to reprise the whole pertinent Alwaleed story, which goes back, as so much does, to 2001. It's important piece of history to keep in mind, so here are the relevant facts.

Shortly after 9/11, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia became notorious for having donated $10 million to the Twin Towers Fund only to have then-mayor Rudy Giuliani return the check. Why did Giuliani return the check? The prince released a statement blaming the 9/11 attacks on American support for Israel -- while, as Alwaleed's statement read, "our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of the Israelis."

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported at the time, Giuliani hadn't seen this statement when he initially accepted the Saudi check among others from government and private industry leaders. In a separate letter, the nephew of the Saudi King had expressed only condolences for "the loss of life that the city of New York has suffered," while condemning "all forms of terrorism."  The Saudi prince wrote: "In doing so, I am reiterating Saudi Arabia's strong stance against these tragic and horrendous acts."

That was OK. It was the press release attached to the letter that was not OK. This statement, also in Alwaleed's name, sought to blame US policy on "the Palestinian cause" for the attack.

"However, at times like this one, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack. I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.

"Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek."

The Chronicle continued:  The mayor, who had been told of the press release just moments before his daily briefing but after receiving the check, was visibly annoyed. "I entirely reject that statement," he said. "That's totally contrary to what I said at the United Nations," he added, referring to his address there last Monday.

"There is no moral equivalent for this act," the mayor said. "There is no justification for it. The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification for it when they slaughtered 4,000 or 5,000 innocent people. And to suggest that there's a justification for it only invites this happening in the future. It is highly irresponsible and very, very dangerous."

The mayor added that he might consult with the State Department before deciding what to do with the check; an hour later, his press office released a statement attributed to the mayor that the check would not be accepted.

A spokesman for the prince, Amjed Shacker, who was reached on his cell phone as he prepared to board a plane for Saudi Arabia, said he knew of no such rejection and indeed seemed perplexed to learn of it.

Giuliani's very public rebuff was very popular, including among star Fox personalities. Here's what some of them said (I hate to cite Media Matters but so be it):

Sean Hannity: Al-Waleed's statement was "such an egregious, outrageous, unfair offense that I would have nothing to do with his money either." On the October 22, 2001, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes (accessed via Nexis), Sean Hannity said, "This is a man that blames the United States and their policies for the attack that took place on September 11th. That is such an egregious, outrageous, unfair offense that I would have nothing to do with his money either, and I applaud what Mayor Giuliani did. It showed a lot of guts and character."

Hannity: "This is a bad guy. Rudy was right to decline the money." On the December 13, 2005, edition of Hannity & Colmes (accessed via Nexis), while discussing a grant Al-Waleed gave Georgetown and Harvard universities, Hannity said: "This is a bad guy. Rudy was right to decline the money. Why would these universities take money from him?"

Mara Liasson: "It was an outrageous statement and the mayor did the right thing and refused the money." Discussing Giuliani's decision to return the money on the October 11, 2001, edition of Fox News' Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Fox News contributor Mara Liasson said Al-Waleed's statement was "completely false," "outrageous," and that "the mayor did the right thing and refused the money."

Bill Sammon: "It's blood money and we're better off without it." During the same discussion with Liasson, Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon said of the money, "When you think about it, upon reflection, you think, you know, this guy is essentially trying to buy legitimacy for his extreme views, which is, you know, that the American policy towards Israel is to blame for this attack on the World Trade Center, which, of course, is outrageous, as Mara says." He continued: "And so I think it was the right thing to turn it down. Especially when you think about $10 million, in this grand scheme of $800 million. I mean, that's less than 2 percent of that. And when you look at the generosity of the American people, you know, that $10 million could be made up by people who are outraged by this very story. So I don't think -- I think it's blood money and we're better off without it."

Following Giuliani's rebuff, Alwaleed opened his purse in 2002 to killers instead, donating a whopping $27 million to a Saudi telethon raising money for the Committee for the Support of the al-Quds Intifada, a Saudi "charity" chaired by the then-Interior Minister of Saudi Arabia (another close releative of Alwaleed bin Talal's). He gave $500,000 that same year to CAIR, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas-linked group.

Documents later seized by the Israeli Defense Force showed that the Saudi telethon money directly aided Hamas and other terrorists. It was "blood money," as Ken Timmerman is quoted as writing in this extensive CAMERA report, and it was "used by Hamas as an enticement to murder by providing a guaranteed income to the families of the murderers."

Timmerman also reported that the 2002 telethon "was hosted by a prominent Saudi-government cleric, Sheikh Saad al-Buraik, who, presumably in the Saudi spirit of warming up the audience, declared:  I am against America until this life ends, until the Day of Judgment, I am against America even if the stone liquefies. My hatred of America, if part of it was contained in the universe, it would collapse. She is the root of all evils and wickedness on Earth ... Muslim Brothers in Palestine, do not have any mercy, neither compassion on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. God made them yours. Why don't you enslave their women? Why don't you wage jihad? Why don't you pillage them?

In other words, pony up, Prince, and so he did. The CAMERA article continues, making note of Alwaleed's claim that his telethon pledge was for Palestinian "infrastructure" destroyed by Israeli forces and relief goods. "However," the story continues, "Timmerman cites Israeli documents that offer a different story of how some of the telethon's money was used." Such money not only went directly to support the families of suicide bombers but also to "Hamas, Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad military commanders and activists directly involved in planning or executing terrorist attacks."

According to the captured documents, the Saudi Committee for Support of the Intifada was aware that the funds it transferred were paid to families of terrorists who perpetrated murderous attacks in Israeli cities, in which hundreds of Israelis were killed and wounded. An American woman was also killed in one of these attacks....It goes on.

Was Alwaleed bin Talal also aware? We don't know, but it strains credulity to imagine he didn't realize that his many millions, recently rejected by the mayor of NYC, would be going, as the telethon holy man declared, for "jihad" against Jews and America. In the intervening years, it appears he has expressed no remorse for having funded terror.

He has, however, changed his ways. It was also in 2002 that Alwaleed seems to have had an epiphany, as reported in Arab News (which he also owns). No more overt funding of jihad, the wheels turning in his brain seem to say. There are better ways to fight jihad: influence.

Arab countries can influence U.S. decison-making "if they unite through economic interests, not political," [Alwaleed] stressed. "We have to be logical and understand that the U.S. administration is subject to U.S. public opinion. We are not so active in this sphere [public opinion]. And to bring the decision-maker on your side, you not only have to be active inside the U.S. Congress or the administration but also inside U.S. society."

Soon, the Saudi billionaire was spending his money quite differently. By 2005, Alwaleed had purchased a 5.5 percent stake of voting stock in Murdoch-owned News Corp (he now owns 7 percent), and those infamous stakes -- sorry, endowments -- in Harvard ($20 million) and Georgetown ($20 million) to set up Islamic studies programs. It paid off fast. Also in 2005, with Muslims rioting in Paris in the worst street violence since 1968, Alwaleed telephoned Rupert Murdoch, as Alwaleed himself told an audience in Dubai. and  "said these are not Muslim riots, they are riots." Presto, the Fox News crawl about "Muslim riots in Paris" across the bottom of the screen changed to "civil riots."

How could this not have been just the beginning?

Diana West is a blogger who writes for DianaWest.net, from where this article was adapted.

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