I’ve done several blog posts questioning the impartiality of Al Jazeera as a news source (for example, here), but even so I was amazed by a line in the Washington Post today. In an article entitled “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Finds Havens Abroad” we find this:
an exile leadership is starting to take shape here among the shimmering high-rises of Doha. Several of the exiles live temporarily in hotel suites paid for by Qatar’s state-run Arabic satellite network Al Jazeera — and it is in those suites and hotel lobbies that the future of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and, more broadly, the strategy and ideology of political Islam in the country may well be charted.
Hotel suites paid for by Al Jazeera!
Al Jazeera America presents itself as “the new American news channel that reports unbiased, fact-based and in-depth journalism that gets you closer to the people at the heart of the news.” Al Jazeera says it has a code of ethics that includes this: “Being a globally oriented media service, Al Jazeera shall adopt the following code of ethics in pursuance of the vision and mission it has set for itself: 1. Adhere to the journalistic values of honesty, courage, fairness, balance, independence, credibility and diversity, giving no priority to commercial or political over professional consideration.”
None of that can be squared with paying for hotel suites for Muslim Brotherhood leaders, month after month. If the Post has the facts right, this practice means that the owner of Al Jazeera, the Government of Qatar, is simply using the network as a tool to provide financial support for the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood’s leadership in exile.
Perhaps the facts are wrong, and if so Qatar and Al Jazeera should let us know. If the Post has it right, it is a startling piece of journalistic malpractice and another reason to see the network as a tool of the Qatari government rather than as a news station.