Al Jazeera proves pro-American
The WikiLeaks whistleblower website, known for its scandalous revelations, has once again perplexed the world. This time it published information on close contacts between the Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite television network and the US military intelligence. The leaked documents say that the US government instructed the channel’s director on how to highlight events and which of them should be held back. Inessa Frolova has the details.
WikiLeaks came to possess documents testifying to Al Jazeera chief Wadah Khanfar’s several meetings with members of US Defense Department’s intelligence agency in 2005. They debated materials published on the channel’s official website that affected Washington’s interests. After that, the general tone of publications softened to a considerable extent, followed by the articles’ vanishing from the website in a couple of days.
The international Arab-language Al Jazeera TV company headquartered in Doha was established in 1996 by order of the Emir of Qatar. It gained wide popularity after starting to highlight the Western coalition’s Afghanistan campaign and broadcast Osama bin Laden’s statements following 9/11.
The channel acquired the reputation of the “mouthpiece” of the Arab world opposed to the American and European media. However, it apparently turned into a cog in the US propaganda machine seeking to make the best use of the popular channel audience’s confidence. This is a rather widespread practice as a matter of fact, says head of the Federal Analytics and Security information center Ruslan Milchenko.
"Everyone is perfectly aware that Al Jazeera, like any other TV channel enjoying public confidence, is a good platform to implement practical politics. It is entirely possible that it is one of the main footholds for the US-led crusade to Arab countries," Ruslan Milchenko stresses.
Serving as an indirect proof of Washington’s influence on Al Jazeera is the company’s changing news management principles. The spread of misleading information playing into the US hands has become a common thing, with the channel offering its apologies for the unfortunate mistakes later. We have these comments from Russian political analyst Rustem Vakhitov.
"Independent Internet media that covered the Libyan war repeatedly said that the US was actively using resources of different Arab channels, including Al Jazeera, to inject misinformation into the minds of people worldwide. There were videos demonstrating the victory of rebels in some of the cities, even in Tripoli, that were shot and edited in Qatar. Internet journalists having ties with Libyan correspondents proved this, pointing to mismatches between the TV footage and Libya’s real geographic peculiarities," Rustem Vakhitov elaborates.
Certainly, such a way to treat information could not but affect people’s confidence in Al Jazeera materials, says the Arab channel’s former Moscow Bureau Chief Akram Khuzam.
"It is wrong to say that people confide in Al Jazeera. This was true when the network was only being created. Today, in my opinion, half of the overall Arab population disbelieves it. Objectivity is simply paling into insignificance," according to Akram Khuzam.
Experts suppose that Al Jazeera’s exposure by WikiLeaks may cause the shutdown of the company’s offices in the Arab countries. Recently, Egypt suspended live broadcasts of its Al Jazeera Mubasher, referring to violations of the law on radio and TV licensing procedures.