Special to WorldTribune.com
By Cliff Kincaid
Rep. Tim Murphy, who holds a senior position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, has called on the Obama administration to explain whether Al Jazeera’s purchase of Current TV from former Democratic Vice President Al Gore was given any federal review and scrutiny.
But Al Jazeera is working furiously to stop the mounting congressional interest and now has three lobbying firms pressing to stop any hearings or investigations into the deal.
Once known as the voice of Osama bin Laden, Al Jazeera is the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood and its various terrorist affiliates. Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera, supports foreign Jihadists, including Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction.
Rep. Murphy told Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Julius Genachowski in a letter that “foreign ownership of media outlets” in the U.S. should be reviewed by the FCC and he questions what, if anything, the FCC did in regard to the Al Jazeera transaction. He says “the rules governing foreign ownership of U.S. news networks” would seem to apply in this case.
Murphy notes that the deal “would increase Al Jazeera’s broadcast footprint ninefold, beaming the channel into 40 million American homes.”
A news release quotes Murphy as saying, “There are legitimate concerns about the sale of an American news channel to a media corporation owned by a foreign government. And under this Administration, the FCC has been especially sensitive to consolidation efforts by television networks and other outlets, which has prompted me to make this inquiry.”
“The Federal Communications Commission has in the past moved assertively to define its role in media-consolidation efforts,” notes the Murphy letter. For example, he says, “in the case of the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, the FCC conducted an aggressive legal review of the matter resulting in a settlement of $800,000 to the U.S. Treasury by Comcast, according to records made public by your Enforcement Bureau.”
Murphy continued, “I would expect that foreign ownership of media outlets in this country falls under a similar category of scrutiny and interest. Concerns over the deal have already been raised by carriers such as Time Warner, and the cable company has announced that it will drop the newly proposed ‘Al Jazeera America’ channel from its packages.”
But in addition to hiring the K Street lobbying firm of DLA Piper to lobby on its behalf, the channel has hired Global Policy Initiatives and TCK International to represent it on Capitol Hill, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity.
On Jan. 4, Accuracy In Media released a statement calling the transaction “an unacceptable danger to American citizens by further adding to the potential for home-grown Jihadists inspired by Al Jazeera’s inflammatory programming.”
In addition to Al Jazeera’s collaboration with terrorist groups, AIM said the hearings should examine:
The fact that 30 public television stations around the U.S. are already airing Al Jazeera in violation of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules.
Al Jazeera is not complying with the Foreign Agent Registration Act and labeling its broadcasts as foreign propaganda paid for by the pro-jihadist government of Qatar.
Michael Thompson of WorldNetDaily recently reported on the efforts, while conservative talk radio host Michael Savage has denounced the deal and urged congressional hearings into the transaction.
AIM previously reported on Al Jazeera’s hiring of the K street lobbying firm, DLA Piper, to stop any plans by Congress to investigate the sale. DLA Piper was hired by Qatar and even has an office in the Arab state, where it works on such matters as “Sharia finance” and tapping into Arab oil wealth.
As part of this expanding effort, Al Jazeera has hired two Republican lobbyists, Tom Korologos and George Salem, to lobby on its behalf, according to a report from Jacob Fenton of the Sunlight Foundation.
Korologos is identified as a “heavyweight Republican lobbyist” whose ties to Capitol Hill “are so legendary he has been dubbed the 101st senator,” while Salem is identified as co-founder of the Arab American Institute who worked on various Republicans campaigns and has donated $166,000 since the 1990 election, almost all of it to Republican candidates.
The apparent purpose of hiring Republicans is to prevent Republicans in Congress from investigating the Al Jazeera deal with prominent Democrats.
Gore and two other prominent Democrats, Joel Hyatt and Richard C. Blum, husband of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, are making money from the deal, valued at $500 million, from the oil-rich Middle Eastern dictatorship of Qatar.
Jacob Fenton reports the deal “has drawn plenty of suspicion from conservative Republicans” and that the lobbying activity is an indication that “the TV network is taking some big steps to smooth over those differences.”
The Sunlight Foundation notes that DLA Piper has hosted at least 20 fundraisers for members of Congress at its Washington, D.C. offices over the past few years. Those fundraisers were for many prominent Republicans.
However, the Tim Murphy letter demonstrates that some Republicans are resisting the pressure and taking their oversight responsibilities seriously.
On the other hand, Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has failed to announce hearings into the transaction.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the Accuracy In Media Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.