US Congressman Rep. Jack Bergman: Mask has come off Al Jazeera’s propaganda
“If any question remained about whether Al Jazeera is an independent news network or an organ of radical Islamist propaganda, it has now been put to rest,” US Congressman Rep. Jack Bergman said on Tuesday.
In an op-ed in the Washington Examiner – “The mask drops at Al Jazeera” – Bergman wrote that Qatar is a purported US ally but one whose foreign policies have drawn criticism from the US and sparked a major rift with its Gulf neighbors. He mentioned “support for the Muslim Brotherhood and US-designated foreign terrorist organization Hamas” as examples of such policies.
The Congressman’s article comes following the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) action forcing the Doha-headquartered news channel to file a report disclosing its relationship to its foreign principal, in keeping with an amendment to last year’s US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The Act, for the fiscal year 2019, requires US-based foreign media outlets to report to the FCC within 60 days – and then twice yearly thereafter – on their relationship to and funding by “foreign principals,” that is, foreign governments or political parties.
Bergman also wrote that this should not come as a surprise to those familiar with Al Jazeera’s programming as the network has, for years, “faced allegations of propagandizing on behalf of terrorist groups such as Hamas and providing a platform for the most virulent anti-Semitism.”
Last year, several House Republicans sent a letter to the Justice Department stating that “Al Jazeera’s record of radical anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel broadcasts warrants scrutiny from regulators to determine whether this network is in violation of US law.”
The Middle East Forum, which advocated for the NDAA provision, welcomed its signing into law last year, noting that while it applies broadly to foreign-owned media “its passage results primarily from abuses by Al Jazeera.”
The Philadelphia-based non-profit noted that, in 2016, Al Jazeera (Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera English, and Al Jazeera Satellite Channel) had a considerably larger number of staff members accredited to the US House and Senate press galleries than the New York Times and Washington Post. Al Jazeera America closed in 2016.
“That Al Jazeera has more reporters covering Congress than the New York Times and the Washington Post combined hints at something going on beyond journalism,” said MEF director Gregg Roman. “With more transparency, we will learn more about the Qatari government’s intentions.”
In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last March, 19 Republican and Democratic lawmakers urged the Justice Department to look into whether Al Jazeera should be required to register as a “foreign agent” under FARA.
“We find it troubling that the content produced by this network often directly undermines American interests with favorable coverage of US State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria,” they wrote.
“Furthermore, Al Jazeera’s record of radical anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel broadcasts warrants scrutiny from regulators to determine whether this network is in violation of US law,” Bergman wrote in his article.
The initiative was led by Reps. Lee Zeldin (R- NY) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ). Other signatories included Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and members of the House Homeland Security Committee, Reps. Peter King (R—NY) and John Ratcliffe (R-Texas).