The Weekly Standard is running another one of those al-Jazeera bashing pieces again (it's subscription only, but you can download the text here). It's pretty weak. It relies on the same tapes that al-Hurra broadcast a few months ago, and adds little new, but why should that stop a perfectly good al-Jazeera bashing article?
The Weekly Standard piece recounts Mohammed Jassem al-Ali's taped meeting with Uday Hussein, for the umpteenth time, but still can't prove that the sycophantic pleasantries add up to "on the payroll" (maintaining good relations with the regime in order to get access to the country, something which all the news organizations did for better or for worse, explains it just as easily). For the record, the fact that al-Ali was "resigned" from his position shortly after the Iraq war suggests to me that he personally might well have been compromised, but the evidence on offer here doesn't prove it.
The piece insinuates that Ahmed Mansour (host of No Limits and the correspondent in Fallujah in April 2004) was on the Iraqi payroll, but the evidence they cite only shows that the Iraqis liked him, not that he was on the Iraqi payroll. There were plenty of other reasons for al-Jazeera to hire Ahmed Mansour, who is one of the most popular and effective talk show hosts in the Arab media.
The article seems to have better evidence on an obscure Syrian journalist based in France, Hamida Nanaa, who seems to have been the recipient of oil coupons. But she didn't work for al-Jazeera, so it is irrelevant to the story.
And that's it. It's disappointing that Andrew Cochran would jump from the very limited evidence in the Weekly Standard piece to "Al Jazeera, the same network which "objectively" reported that the
Arab world opposed the U.S. liberation of Iraq from Saddam's grip, was
actually Saddam's paid mouthpiece for years." That's exceedingly weak for a "counter-terrorism professional". The article does nothing of the sort. At some point, evidence of such a relationship might emerge - I wouldn't rule it out, since it's notoriously hard to prove a negative, but I've yet to see any serious evidence... certainly not in this piece.
And the authors rather hilariously quote Walid Phares as such: "[this] may be only the tip of the iceberg. 'How many other regimes have been paying this media?" Oh my god! Other regimes paying the Arab media? Who could they be? And what do those mysterious initials "S" and "A" mean? What rhymes with "Maudi Varabia"? Man, that's a stumper all right.