Is Saudi Prince Steering News Corp. Coverage?

January 12, 2013

Diana West


Ever since Al Gore sold Current TV to Al Jazeera, the network founded and funded by the oil-rich emirate of Qatar, the former vice president has drawn continuous fire in conservative media. Fox News, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, for example, have all castigated Gore, a man of the Left and leading avatar of “global warming,” for such hypocrisies as timing the deal to avoid Lefty tax hikes and bagging $100 million in greenhouse-gas money.
These same news outlets share something else in common: They all belong to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. That means they also belong to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Alwaleed owns the largest chunk of News Corp. stock outside the Murdoch family. Shortly after his purchase of 5.5 percent of News Corp. voting shares in 2005, Alwaleed gave a speech that made it clear just what he had bought. As noted in The (U.K.) Guardian, Alwaleed told an audience in Dubai that it took just one phone call to Rupert Murdoch — “speaking not as a shareholder but as a viewer,” Alwaleed said — to get the Fox News crawl reporting “Muslim riots” in France changed to “civil riots.”
This didn’t make the “Muslim” riots go away, but Alwaleed managed to fog our perception of them. With a phone call, the Saudi prince eliminated the peculiarly Islamic character of the unprecedented French street violence for both the viewers at home and, more significantly, for the journalists behind the scenes. When little owner doesn’t want “Muslim” rioting identified and big owner agrees, it sets a marker for employees. Alwaleed’s stake, by the way, is now 7 percent.
We can only speculate on what other acts of influence this nephew of the Saudi dictator might have since imposed on Fox News and other News Corp. properties. (I have long argued that News Corp. should register as a foreign agent, due to the stock owned by a senior member of the Saudi ruling dynasty.) Alwaleed hasn’t shared any other editorial exploits with the public. But that opening act of eliminating key information from News Corp.’s coverage of Islamic news might well have set a pattern of omission.
Recently, such a pattern of omission in News Corp.’s coverage of the Gore-Al Jazeera deal seems evident. I say “seems,” because I can’t be entirely certain that I haven’t missed something in my research. But judging from online searches of news stories and audio transcripts, two salient points are missing from at least the main body of News Corp.’s coverage.
One is reference to the noticeable alignment of Al Jazeera with the Muslim Brotherhood, the global Islamic movement whose motto is, “The Koran is our law; jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” The second (with an exception noted below) is reference to Al Jazeera’s superstar host and ideological lodestar, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure. The influence of al-Qaradawi at the network and in Qatar — where, according to Freedom House’s 2012 press report, it is against the law for journalists to criticize the Qatari government, the ruling family or Islam — can hardly be overestimated.
Strange omission? This relationship between the Qatari-controlled network and the Muslim Brotherhood organization has been observed for years. Back in 2007, for example, Steven Stalinsky reported in The New York Sun that various Arab commentators referred to Al Jazeera as “the Muslim Brotherhood channel” and the like. What’s more, reference to the relationship appears at least in passing in coverage of the Gore deal at mainstream media sites such as USA Today and the Seattle Times. More discussion is available at some conservative outlets, including Rush Limbaugh and The Blaze. (Searches at Breitbart and the Washington Examiner, like News Corp. sites, yielded nothing on these same points. Call it, perhaps, “the Fox effect.”)
Given the rise of Muslim Brotherhood parties in the revolutions of the so-called Arab Spring — undeviatingly cheered on by Al Jazeera — the network’s Muslim Brotherhood connection, which extends to Al Jazeera’s sponsors inside the Qatari ruling family, is a crucial point to miss. Especially when it seems to be missed across the board.
The same goes for failing to mention Al Jazeera’s leading personality, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in the Gore deal coverage. This longtime “spiritual guide” of the Muslim Brotherhood hosts one of Al Jazeera’s most popular shows, “Sharia and Life.” Among other poisonous pronouncements, al-Qaradawi has called for Americans in Iraq and Israelis everywhere to be targeted by terrorists (“martyrs”) who would then find a place in Islamic paradise. Given Al Gore’s refusal to sell his network to Glenn Beck’s The Blaze TV due to political differences, Muslim Brother Al-Qaradawi and his Shariah ideology become highly relevant. Then again, maybe one man’s news story is just another man’s clipping on the cutting-room floor.
Meanwhile, the one story I found in News Corp. coverage of the Gore deal that mentions al-Qaradawi — a column by Gordon Crovitz — neglected to note al-Qaradawi’s place in the Muslim Brotherhood. Particularly given current events, this is a little like forgetting to mention that Hermann Goring was in the Nazi Party.
Could normal editorial discretion or plain ignorance be at work here? I suppose so. Still, there is that tie-in between News Corp. and the House of Saud to consider, a partnership I find more troubling than Gore’s deal with the Qatari emirate. Not only does Alwaleed own a stake in News Corp., Murdoch owns an even more substantial stake (18.97 percent) in Alwaleed’s Arabic media company Rotana.
Within the Alwaleed-Murdoch-Rotana galaxy is a 24-hour-Islamic outlet called Al Risala, which Alwaleed founded in 2006. The channel’s director and popular “tele-Islamist” is Tareq Al-Suwaidan, widely reported to be a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait. The station’s “Supreme Advisory Committee” includes Abdullah Omar Naseef, who, according to former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, is “a major Muslim Brotherhood figure” involved in the financing of al-Qaida.
Al Risala, then, would seem to fit right into the Al Jazeera-Qaradawi-Muslim-Brotherhood lineup.
We know Alwaleed has influenced Fox editorial matters before. Could that Alwaleed influence — even his very presence – account for why News Corp. hasn’t hit harder on the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaradawi angles of the Gore-Jazeera deal?
I don’t know, but I wonder. Don’t you?

Diana West

Diana West is a contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of the new book, The Death of the Grown-up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization.


Does US Military Action Against Qaddafi Require Congressional Authorization?

March 21, 2011

This has been bouncing around over the weekend, but somehow I missed it until now. Presidential candidate Barack Obama, December 2007:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

So Obama agrees with Dennis Kucinich that his authorization of military action against Libya was unconstitutional. Presumably he disagrees with Kucinich’s suggestion that he should therefore be impeached.

Still, as we have noted a couple of times, it is very odd that Obama did not seek Congressional approval of the Libya mission. He certainly could have gotten it. And Obama’s statement that “military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch” is one with which most people–George W. Bush, for example–would agree. So why did Obama launch a military action under circumstances that he himself describes as unconstitutional and unwise?

Maybe he just couldn’t be bothered. One gets the feeling that Obama doesn’t want to invest any more time or energy than necessary in his presidential duties (as opposed to his presidential perks). Otherwise, I’m stumped.

via powerlineblog.com

…Several liberal Democratic members of Congress are claiming that President Obama’s decision to use force against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi requires congressional authorization:

A hard-core group of liberal House Democrats is questioning the constitutionality of U.S. missile strikes against Libya, with one lawmaker raising the prospect of impeachment during a Democratic Caucus conference call on Saturday.
Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) “all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president’s actions” during that call, said two Democratic lawmakers who took part.
Kucinich, who wanted to bring impeachment articles against both former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Iraq — only to be blocked by his own leadership — asked why the U.S. missile strikes aren’t impeachable offenses….
Saturday’s conference call was organized by Rep. John Larson (Conn.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus and the fourth-highest ranking party leader. Larson has called for Obama to seek congressional approval before committing the United States to any anti-Qadhafi military operation.
“They consulted the Arab League. They consulted the United Nations. They did not consult the United States Congress,” one Democrat lawmaker said of the White House. “They’re creating wreckage, and they can’t obviate that by saying there are no boots on the ground. … There aren’t boots on the ground; there are Tomahawks in the air.”

Andrew McCarthy, a prominent conservative legal commentator, makes a similar argument here.
This is another of those rare cases where I agree with Dennis Kucinich though I would not go so far as to advocate impeachment, . Unlike Kucinich (and Andrew McCarthy), I tentatively think that Obama has chosen the right policy on Libya. But whether right or not, military action on this scale surely does require congressional authorization under the Constitution.

interesting point, but I disagree that going into Libya was prudent.

Article I of the Constitution clearly gives Congress, not the president, the “power… to declare War.” The Founding Fathers sought to avoid a situation where one man had the power to commit the nation to war on his own initiative.
It’s arguable that some small-scale uses of force don’t rise to the level of a war and therefore can be undertaken by the president acting alone under his authority as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. President Reagan’s 1986 airstrike on Libya might be an example, as were Bill Clinton’s 1998 missile strikes against Al Qaeda base camps in Afghanistan. If all the Obama administration intends is to launch a few Tomahawk missiles, perhaps this action would fall in the same category. However, it seems highly likely that the president plans to go well beyond this. Military operations are likely to continue for some time, perhaps until Qaddafi has either been overthrown or at least compelled to leave the rebel-controlled parts of Libya unmolested. If so, it seems quite clear that congressional authorization for military action on that scale is required.
Congressional also might not be needed if all the president is responding to an ongoing or imminent attack. However, Qaddafi has not attacked the US in recent years (though he did sponsor numerous anti-American terrorist attacks in the 1980s and early 90s) and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that he had any immediate intention of doing so.
As Andrew McCarthy recognizes, congressional authorization need not specifically use the words “declaration of war.” It is enough that it clearly authorize large-scale military action against the enemy in question, as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Al Qaeda and the Taliban did in 2001.
For all the hoopla about the supposedly overwhelming growth of presidential power, presidents have in fact gotten advance or nearly simultaneous congressional authorization for almost every major military intervention the United States has undertaken since World War II. This was true in Korea, Vietnam, the two Iraq wars, and many other cases. Bill Clinton’s 1999 military action in Kosovo was the one time during that period when a president entered into a major conflict in the face of actual opposition by the majority in Congress. In part for that reason, Clinton strictly limited the scale of American involvement, avoiding the use of ground forces and ensuring that US troops didn’t suffer any combat casualties. Perhaps Obama plans to do the same thing with Libya; but if so, he will be in a difficult position if more coercion is needed to succeed.
In addition to constitutional reasons, presidents also have strong political incentives to seek congressional support for military action. Without it, the president will have to take the sole political blame if anything goes wrong.
In this case, I have little doubt that Obama could get congressional authorization if he tries to do so. There is considerable Republican support for the Libya intervention, and Obama can also count on the support of most of his fellow Democrats. The Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate is backing him, despite the opposition of some House liberals.
For both constitutional and political reasons, the administration should seek a congressional vote as soon as possible.