Have you heard about the 23-year-old Saudi journalist who tweeted an imaginary conversation with Muhammad? It went something like this: He loved Muhammad, he hated Muhammad, he couldn't understand Muhammad, he wasn't going to pray for Muhammad. If this isn't exactly a disquisition on faith and doubt a la "The Brothers Karamazov," remember, we're just talking Twitter.
If you haven't heard of this young man, whose name is Hamza Kashgari, it could be because you're watching too much Fox News. As of this writing, almost a week after the Kashgari story broke, I haven't found a single story about it at the Fox News website. (You try: www.foxnews.com.) Meanwhile, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC and CNN have all reported the Kashgari story, clueing in their viewers on how far totalitarian Islam, Saudi style, will go to exert its control over the human spirit. But not Fox.
Say -- you don't suppose the fact that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal owns the second-largest block of stock (7 percent) in News Corp., Fox News' parent company, not to mention a new $300 million stake in Twitter (almost 4 percent), has anything to do with Fox's silence on this Saudi black eye of a story? After all, it was Saudi dictator King Abdullah -- Alwaleed's uncle -- whom press accounts credit with ordering the tweeting journalist's hot pursuit and imprisonment. And it is Saudi Arabia's adherence to Islamic limits on free speech that is driving Kashgari's ordeal.
Maybe it has become institutional Fox thinking to let such news slide for fear of offending the Saudi prince -- or for fear of risking the kind of exposure that might remind viewers of Fox's connections to Saudi regime interests via Alwaleed.
As I've argued in the past, it is these connections that make it incumbent upon News Corp. to register as a foreign agent. (So, too, should universities that accept Saudi and other Islamic millions to open departments of Islamic studies.) Fox's silence on this bell-ringer of a story reinforces the sneaking suspicion that, conscious or not, there may be an Alwaleed effect on Fox coverage which, in a conflict of interest, actually serves the House of Saud before Fox viewers.
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