Jeff Ballou, the head of the National Press Club and editor at Al-Jazeera, attacked Breitbart News and the Gateway Pundit in a recent panel aired on C-SPAN.
On Friday, July 21st, the head of the National Press Club, Jeff Ballou, appeared on a panel discussion being held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C. The event was aired live on C-SPAN. The CSIS describes a brief history of the group on their website which reads, “At the height of the Cold War in 1962, Admiral Arleigh Burke and David Abshire founded the Center for Strategic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The institution was dedicated to the simple but urgent goal of finding ways for the United States to survive as a nation and prosper as a people.”
CSIS invited members from the National Press Club to discuss the global influence of the press in a panel titled, “Examining the Geopolitical Impact of the 4th Estate.” Among the five panelists were two reporters from Al-Jazeera, the state sponsored, pro-Islam news outlet of the Qatar government. Rosiland Jordan, a UN correspondent for the network and Jeff Ballou, a news editor at Al-Jazeera and the President of the National Press Club appeared on the panel.
During the panel Ballou made the following statement’s about Breitbart News and The Gateway Pundit,
Breitbart is a perfect example of that. Gateway Pundit is a perfect example of that. These are organizations that don’t practice the (news) craft with fairness and balance and yet for political reasons the White House has allowed them to be credentialed in the briefing room. that should scare you.
There’s a difference between conservative leaning in some respects, news organizations that still call balls and strikes. There’s worlds of difference between FOX News and Breitbart. let’s just put it out there. and you have… I would trust FOX News. I will not trust Breitbart because Breitbart has a history of doctoring video.
Thank God that some committees booted them away when they asked for credentials because we have to have standards about who’s doing the job. And the First Amendment is not, it’s not because the First Amendment. It is not for the government to say you’re a legitimate news organization and you’re not. It really is the ultimate free marketplace of ideas. Self policing, I believe, is the way we will do this but to have a central repository for saying this is factual, this isn’t factual.
The full clip of Ballou’s comments can be found here. Ballou seems to believe that while the government shouldn’t be allowed to determine what constitutes a legitimate news outlet, he and other Washington DC elites should. Ironically, Al-Jazeera has come under fire for the very thing that they have accused Breitbart News and The Gateway Pundit of, with reporters even quitting the company over fears that the news network had become a blatant propaganda arm of the Qatar government.
Aktham Suliman, a long time Berlin correspondent for Al-Jazeera resigned in 2012, accusing Al-Jazeera of propaganda. “Before the beginning of the Arab Spring, we were a voice for change,” he says, “a platform for critics and political activists throughout the region. Now, Al-Jazeera has become a propaganda broadcaster.” Suliman explained his comments saying, “Al-Jazeera takes a clear position in every country from which it reports — not based on journalistic priorities, but rather on the interests of the Foreign Ministry of Qatar.” Although Suliman believes that Al-Jazeera may at one point have been unbiased, those days are long gone. “The news channel Al-Jazeera was committed to the truth. Now it is bent. It’s about politics, not journalism. For the reporter that means: time to go.”
Documents leaked by the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks in 2010 appeared to show that Al-Jazeera was used by the Qatar government as a bargaining chip, offering positive coverage in exchange for concessions during negotiations with other world leaders. The memos which came from the U.S. embassy outright contradict claims by Al-Jazeera that they are editorially independent of the Qatar government. According to the leaked cables, in July of 2009, the US embassy stated that Al-Jazeera, “has proved itself a useful tool for the station’s political masters.”
Another cable a cable from November of 2009 predicted that the station could be used “as a bargaining tool to repair relationships with other countries, particularly those soured by Al-Jazeera’s broadcasts, including the United States.”
Al-Jazeera attempted to open an American outlet in 2013, planning to compete with other major television news networks such as CNN and FOX News. However, following consistently low ratings with the channel struggling to draw even 30,000 viewers a day, Al-Jazeera America was shut down in April of 2016 citing the “economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace,” for the channel’s failure.
The news outlet has also come under regular fire for alleged antisemitism, at one point tweeting a photo about climate change featuring an antisemitic caricature of a Jewish man which can be seen below,
— Eli Meixler (@elimeixler) May 31, 2017
Al-Jazeera also regularly airs a show titled “Sharia and Life” hosted by Yusuf Qaradawi, who according to The Atlantic, “argues clearly and consistently that hatred of Israel and Jews is Islamically sanctioned.” Qaradawi has also explained, “how this battle between Muslims and Jews is one of the preconditions that needs to be fulfilled before the Day of Judgment can come.”
Hadith stated, “We believe that the battle between us and the Jews is coming … Such a battle is not driven by nationalistic causes or patriotic belonging; it is rather driven by religious incentives. This battle is not going to happen between Arabs and Zionists, or between Jews and Palestinians, or between Jews or anybody else. It is between Muslims and Jews as is clearly stated in the hadith. This battle will occur between the collective body of Muslims and the collective body of Jews i.e. all Muslims and all Jews.”
Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit commented on Ballou’s statements in an article saying, “Apparently, in the minds of liberals, Al-Jazeera is considered the unbiased adjudicator of what is truth in the US media and is able to slander the GWP and Breitbart with impunity?”