Well, The Washington Post sure knows how to bury a lead. It’s hardly news that someone is accusing Al Jazeera of having an anti-Western slant – it does and plenty of people have taken public exception to it. But when 22 of the network’s own employees quit because they can’t stomach the pervasive pro-Islamist bias, it’s something to write home about.
On July 9, the Post ran a straightforward “Style” section article about the latest charges of bias against Al Jazeera, this time about its pro-Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Morsi coverage of the Egyptian unrest. It seems the Egyptian military, with the hearty approval of gathered Egyptian journalists, banished some Al Jazeera reporters from a news conference.
Big deal. The Obama administration tried to do more or less the same thing to Fox, and the incident probably gives Al Jazeera more credibility with its core audience.
Post readers had to wade through to the 10th paragraph to learn the real news: that “Several staff members at al-Jazeera Arabic reportedly quit in protest on Monday over the network’s Egyptian coverage.” Not only that, but the Post cited an article in The Economist saying “several of the network’s journalists, including star correspondents, have quit over political disagreements. Al Jazeera English anchor Dave Marash left in 2008 “because of what he viewed as a ‘reflexive adversarial editorial stance’ against Americans, primarily by the network’s British managers.”
It would be interesting to learn the Post’s definition of “several.” According to Gulfnews.com, the number of defectors was 22.
To be clear, the Post article was balanced and detailed some of Al Jazeera’s conflicts of interest in close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the pro-Brotherhood skew of its opinion programming and the network’s Qatari owners’ support for Morsi. This was not boosterism of The New York Times.
But as the Post article noted, this is “a sensitive time for the satellite network, which is preparing to launch an ambitious news channel for American viewers.” The article quoted experts saying the forthcoming Al Jazeera America would probably tone itself down for the U.S. audience.
That’s a relief. Because if bias suddenly drove employees to quit the network that threw a birthday party for a terrorist child-killer, ignored the rape of an American journalist in Tarhir Square and refused to report on terror attacks against Israeli civilians, well, “Doha, we have a problem.”