Politico’s Dylan Byers reports NBC News Capitol Hill reporter Mike Viqueira is leaving the Peacock Network after 15 years to join Al-Jazeera America (the oil money must have been very good). He joins CNN anchor Ali Velshi as veteran network names at the new venture.
Viqueira will return to the White House beat for the Qatar-owned network. The NBC vet dismissed the thought that AJA would have a “bias,” say, toward Islamists. That would never happen:
As far as concerns over an Al Jazeera bias, I'd say: Watch and see, watch and learn. It will quickly become apparent what we're all about, and those concerns will dissipate quickly, to the extent that they still exist.
Viqueira claimed “they are committed to doing the news in a straight-forward way -- it's very exciting.” And lucrative! Then came the so-sad-to-leave talk:
I have mixed emotions about leaving NBC. I've been there for 15 years, I started there chasing Monica Lewinsky's mom around, I've served as chief congressional correspondent, went down to the White House, returned to the HIll at the beginning of the year -- at that time, I guess I was sort of ready to go. Meanwhile, the Al Jazeera opportunity came along; discussions were ongoing and stretched out over several weeks. The more I heard about it, the more I heard about their comittment to being a straight-forward journalistic outlet of the old school, the more excited I was.
I really think the pendulum is swinging back the other way: hard news journalism is really coming back into vogue. My role at the White House will be the same as with the previous outfit: I'm there to hold public officials' feet to the fire. I don't see the approach at Al Jazeera as dramatically different.
His new Arab bosses were thrilled:
“Michael Viqueira is a seasoned national correspondent with deep experience covering Washington politics,” said Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of international operations for Al Jazeera and the senior executive in charge of developing Al Jazeera America. “Every political activity in the Capitol has an impact on the average American and his knowledge and extensive network of contacts will allow him to dig deeper to bring important news and information to light for the American public.”