Thursday, June 27, 2013

Al Jazeera Buys Into the "Newseum," the D.C. Venue With the Words of the First Amendment on Its Frontage

Claudia Rosett examines this revolting development:
What Al Jazeera most seems to need is credibility. Which brings us to its arrangements to broadcast from the Newseum, a venue meant to showcase the glories of a free press, not the advantages of Arab oil wealth. Operating as a tax-exempt public charity, built at a cost of $475 million and opened in 2008, the Newseum is located on prime Washington real estate just blocks from the White House and Capitol. Complete with conference facilities and crammed with interactive exhibits and historic items—such as a twisted piece of the antenna that once topped the North Tower of the World Trade Center—the Newseum’s block-long building offers a prestigious address, especially for those in the news trade. To symbolize transparency, its walls are made of glass, adorned at one end with a 74-foot-high marble slab engraved with the First Amendment. 
Giants of the American news industry contributed millions to help create this place. Plastered throughout its premises are the names of such patrons as Hearst, the New York Times, Bloomberg, News Corporation, ABC, and NBC. The studio Al Jazeera is now refurbishing to its taste is named for the Knight Foundation, a legacy of the Knight Newspapers empire. Until recently, it was home to ABC’s This Week, with George Stephanopoulos. 
It’s easy to see what Al Jazeera gets from this arrangement. But what is the Newseum getting? Or, to put it in dollar terms, how much? Al Jazeera America, headquartered in New York, did not return my phone calls. When I phoned the Newseum press office recently to ask for financial details of the Al Jazeera arrangements, it turned out that officials of this institution dedicated to reporting would not answer such questions from a reporter. Newseum media relations manager Jonathan Thompson did confirm that while a number of other news organizations rent temporary studio space at the Newseum, “Al Jazeera will be the only news organization that has a more permanent contract.”... 
Thereby demonstrating the First Amendment is no match for an ambitious, sharia-loving emirate awash in oil wealth.

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