ON-Lion Letter
"Bankrolled by the oil and gas wealth of Qatar, now hiring 800 staff members and opening 12 news bureaus across the United States, Al Jazeera will soon be coming to a television near you," begins a July Weekly Standard article by Claudia Rosett.  "From its Doha headquarters, the media empire of Qatar's royal family is launching a new channel dubbed Al Jazeera America, devoted to in-depth coverage of the United States.  When it goes live later this year, its flagship primetime show, America Tonight, will be broadcast from a studio in Washington's Newseum -- a high-tech museum of news and journalism with the self-described mission of 'educating the public about the value of a free press in a free society.'"

Rosett is a journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and heads its Investigative Reporting Project, which is supported by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee.

"Operating as a tax-exempt public charity, built at a cost of $475 million and opened in 2008, the Newseum is located on prime Washington real estate just blocks from the White House and Capitol," according to Rosett.

"It's easy to see what Al Jazeera gets from this arrangement," she writes.  "But what is the Newseum getting?  Or, to put it in dollar terms, how much?

"Al Jazeera is not the only topic on which the Newseum has made troubling decisions lately," Rosett continues.  "This spring, the Newseum included in its memorial to fallen journalists the names of two men killed in Gaza last year while working under the auspices of Al Aqsa Television, Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama.  Al Aqsa TV has been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury since 2010 as 'financed and controlled by Hamas.'  Treasury noted that Al Aqsa 'airs programs and music videos designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.'

"Honoring dead Hamas terrorists is the kind of gesture that might please the emir of Qatar, who last October traveled to Gaza to honor the living leaders of Hamas by promising them $400 million in aid.  But it seems a strange way of educating the public in the value of a free press," she concludes.  "So does a statement, in reply to my questions, from Newseum spokesman [Jonathan] Thompson:  'Free speech includes the right to not answer questions.'"
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |