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What They Are Saying: 'Fair and Balanced.' Let's Define These Words in News-Speak, Please.

October 12, 2005 By:
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Frank J. Gaffney Jr.

Think-tank scholar Frank J. Gaffney Jr. writes on FrontPageMagazine.com on Sept. 30 about Fox News' Saudi prince:

"With surprisingly little media attention, Saudi Arabia has bought a stake in the company that owns what has been, until now, arguably its most visible and influential critic: the Fox News Network. Will this be the end of Fox's 'fair and balanced' coverage of the immense Saudi role in promoting Islamofascist terror? Or can American viewers rest assured that the royal Saudi buyer, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, has nothing more nefarious in mind than increasing his already vast fortune?

"The answer to this incalculably important question may lie in understanding who this prince is, and the nature of his deal with Rupert Murdoch, principal owner of Fox's parent, the News Corporation.

"Al-Waleed is said be the world's fifth richest man and now NewsCorp's fourth largest voting shareholder (behind the Murdoch family, Liberty Media and fund giant Fidelity Management & Research Co). Such a role would appear to give the prince some say over the way the business is run. That could, presumably, extend to the content of Fox programming and that of the company's other media outlets (which include DirecTV and 20th Century Fox).

"Will Al-Waleed be a prince, and leave these American institutions alone? Or will he throw his weight around, perhaps only behind the scenes, to - let's say - improve the sorry image his country has earned in the United States?

"Mind you, public relations is not exactly something at which Al-Waleed has previously excelled. But not for want of trying. Recall that he was the Saudi prince who made headlines after Sept. 11, when he visited ground zero and offered then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani a $10 million check for relief efforts.

"A few days later, however, the prince released a statement that blamed the United States and its support for Israel for the devastating 9/11 attacks. To his credit, 'America's Mayor' immediately returned the prince's check.

"Even more troubling than having a Saudi spinmeister, even a lousy one, at the decision-making table of America's most successful, and conservative, television network is another aspect of Al-Waleed's deal with Mr. Murdoch. The Australian entrepreneur has reportedly also given the prince the unfiltered ability to broadcast Saudi-produced materials directly into America on Murdoch's satellite.

"Here's how that part of the deal will evidently work: Prince Al-Waleed's Rotana Audio Visual Company, which operates TV channels in the Middle East, has signed a deal with DirecTV, the TV-satellite firm controlled by NewsCorp. As a result, it would seem Rotana will be able to beam its programs into U.S. cable boxes without interference from federal regulators, or anybody else.

"Hmmm. What passes for entertainment in Saudi Arabia mostly looks like jihadist agitprop to the rest of us. Rotana has a huge library of movies, music and television programs. Such programming has to also include vicious anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-American incitement. That is, after all, the only kind of material the Wahhabi religious censors approve for production and broadcast in Saudi Arabia. Could that be what the prince has in mind for DirecTV subscribers?

"Then the question occurs: Can we rely on Rupert Murdoch to keep the Saudi prince from abusing his new platforms? Perhaps not. After all, Mr. Murdoch is having succession, financial and other problems with his empire.

"The track record of Prince Al-Waleed, the Islamist interests of his family and kingdom, and the needs of Rupert Murdoch could constitute the media equivalent of a 'perfect storm.' They may, indeed, translate into a worrisome new set of constraints on the network millions of Americans have come to rely upon for 'fair and balanced' reporting. Nowhere has this been more important than Fox's news coverage of the Middle East - a region CNN (especially its international arm), the BBC and most print outlets cover with only slightly less hostility to America than Al Jazeera.

"Could it be that the Saudis' troubling move on Fox and its sister companies is getting so little attention from the competition because they hope such a step will make them look at Fox News as less 'fair and balanced'? You decide."

All Part of an Islamist Plan to Conquer and Control the Entire World

Journalist Clifford D. May writes on Townhall.com Oct. 6 about what a recent bombing says about militant Islam:

"The latest suicide-bombings in Bali should make us stop and think: What did the people of Bali do to so anger militant Islamists? Balinese troops are not battling Ba'athist insurgents and Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq. Bali was not involved in toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bali hasn't sided with India over disputed Kashmir or with Israel over the disputed West Bank.

"Indeed, Bali's foreign policy can hardly be regarded as objectionable by anyone - because Bali has no foreign policy. The predominately Hindu island is not independent. It is part of Indonesia, which happens to be the largest Muslim nation in the world.

"Yet Bali has now been struck twice by terrorists, the first time three years ago. There also have been two attacks in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, one outside the Australian Embassy last year, the other at a hotel in 2003.

"What do the Islamists want? The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize - to frighten, to intimidate. The Islamists want relatively liberal democratic Indonesia to knuckle under.

"Like the Nazis and Communists, militant Islamists are totalitarians. The difference is that where Nazis saw democracy as decadent, and Communists viewed democracy as bourgeois, militant Islamists regard democracy as blasphemous: It awards to citizens powers that belong to God - as interpreted by them, of course.

"Islamists also are offended by Indonesia's traditional tolerance of its religious minorities. In the militants' view, Hindus, Christians, Jews and other groups living in 'Muslim lands' can aspire only to be dhimmis - second-class citizens grudgingly endured, whose faiths are discouraged.

"And, of course, Bali hosts Australians, Americans and other infidels who sit on beaches wearing skimpy clothing, drinking alcohol and engaging in [offensive] behaviors.

"Indonesia is not the only Muslim country the Islamists are targeting. In August, scores of bombs rocked Bangladesh. Only a few people were killed and the international community shrugged. Similarly, and again with little attention from the United Nations, the media or just about anyone else, southern Thailand has become the bloodiest killing ground for Muslims after Iraq.

"In time, Islamists believe, they will become the dominant force throughout Southeast Asia, across the Middle East, into Africa and beyond. They intend to create - they would say recreate - an empire, a caliphate, that will challenge the Great Satan, the 'Crusaders,' the 'unbelievers,' the Zionists and the Muslim 'apostates.'

"The Islamists are convinced that the stronger they become, the less they will be resisted and the more they'll be appeased. Who can say for certain that they are wrong?"

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