Ever since Al Gore sold Current TV to Al Jazeera, the network founded and funded by the oil-rich emirate of Qatar, the former vice president has drawn continuous fire in conservative media. Fox News, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, for example, have all castigated Gore, a man of the Left and leading avatar of "global warming," for such hypocrisies as timing the deal to avoid Lefty tax hikes and bagging $100 million in greenhouse-gas money.
These same news outlets share something else in common: They all belong to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. That means they also belong to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
Alwaleed owns the largest chunk of News Corp. stock outside the Murdoch family. Shortly after his purchase of 5.5 percent of News Corp. voting shares in 2005, Alwaleed gave a speech that made it clear just what he had bought. As noted in The (U.K.) Guardian, Alwaleed told an audience in Dubai that it took just one phone call to Rupert Murdoch -- "speaking not as a shareholder but as a viewer," Alwaleed said -- to get the Fox News crawl reporting "Muslim riots" in France changed to "civil riots."
This didn't make the "Muslim" riots go away, but Alwaleed managed to fog our perception of them. With a phone call, the Saudi prince eliminated the peculiarly Islamic character of the unprecedented French street violence for both the viewers at home and, more significantly, for the journalists behind the scenes. When little owner doesn't want "Muslim" rioting identified and big owner agrees, it sets a marker for employees. Alwaleed's stake, by the way, is now 7 percent.
We can only speculate on what other acts of influence this nephew of the Saudi dictator might have since imposed on Fox News and other News Corp. properties. (I have long argued that News Corp. should register as a foreign agent, due to the stock owned by a senior member of the Saudi ruling dynasty.) Alwaleed hasn't shared any other editorial exploits with the public. But that opening act of eliminating key information from News Corp.'s coverage of Islamic news might well have set a pattern of omission.
Recently, such a pattern of omission in News Corp.'s coverage of the Gore-Al Jazeera deal seems evident. I say "seems," because I can't be entirely certain that I haven't missed something in my research. But judging from online searches of news stories and audio transcripts, two salient points are missing from at least the main body of News Corp.'s coverage.
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