Old Habits Die Hard at “Al-Hurra”

"The Broadcasting Board of Governors, a federal agency, has asked the state department’s inspector general to investigate, a spokesman for Karen Hughes, under-secretary for public diplomacy, told the Financial Times. Mrs Hughes, a board member, was aware of allegations and awaited the findings, he said.

The House of Representatives subcommittee on oversight and investigations is also looking into al-Hurra, which started broadcasting in February 2004. A hearing has been set for November 10 with Kenneth Tomlinson, BBG chairman, and Mouafac Harb, the news director of al-Hurra, called as witnesses."  FT


"Al-Hurra"  TV is an expensive exercise in propaganda aimed at the Arab World.  It was created as a reflexive response to the Bush Administration’s unhappy realization that most people in the Arab World don’t like the United States anymore and especially don’t like the policies of the Bush Administration with regard to the Arab World.  It has a "sister" radio propaganda outlet ("Sawa Radio")  Both are the property of the US Government, are fully funded with taxpayer money (either tax receipts or just plain old deficit "fiat" money). 

Both of these outlets are largely the work of Mouafac Harb, a Lebanese American journalist of neocon inclination and loyalty who built these TV and Radio outlets from nothing.  Kenneth Tomlinson is a long time ally of his.  Tomlinson has been a leader in the work of "disciplining" the publicly financed media into positions of support for the administration’s policies and exclusion of dissenting opinion.

Now they have problems with the State Department’s Inspector General and a Republican controlled committee of the House of Representatives over the same kind of issues of cronyism and corruption that have be-deviled other parts of the Bush Administration.

Many knowledgeable Arabs have told me that they think that "Al-Hurra" has hired so many right wing Lebanese Christians that its editorial "slant" is one that is largely isolated from mainstream thinking in the Arab and Islamic Worlds just as these employees are isolated in their thinking from the majority of Arabs.  What will the result of these inquiries be?

Who knows what may happen in this environment, but if the Bush Administration wants effective information operations, they had better "clean house" at "Al-Hurrah and "Sawa."

Pat Lang


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6 Responses to Old Habits Die Hard at “Al-Hurra”

  1. J says:

    sadly, don’t count on either al-hurrah or sawa cleaning house in the future, as both are entitites with tunnel-vision. so we (the taxpayers) have to squat and watch and listen as the fumbling and bumbling nincompoops of al-hurrah and sawa garner further distrust by an arab world that changes their channels and dials to something that is more in tune with ‘reality’ in the arab world and globe at large. al-hurrah and sawa are nothing but ‘boonedoggles’ soaking our taxpayer pockets. propaganda entities sometimes work, and sometimes they do not. the ‘propaganda’ that is al-hurrah and sawa, have turned into nothing but high-dollar dismal failure. radio free europe they are not.

  2. Geoff says:

    Get rid of ’em both!
    We need an “al-Hughes” channel. She does such a good job reaching out to the Arab world. No one can express the ignorance of the Bush Admin. better.

  3. Oui says:

    Colonel Patrick Lang,
    In response, see my diary at BooMan Tribune:
    Norman J. Pattiz – Chairman BBG Middle East Committee
    … of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The committee represents the propaganda arm of the Middle East Initiative, which seeks to “democratize” the region against its will.

  4. Matthew says:

    Why are we spending money on these ludicrious fictional news stations. Arabs can watch Al-Jazerra and see daily images of Gaza. Our silence over that catastrophe drowns out any feel-good agit-prop. Col. Lang, are you the only American who actually asks Arabs why the believe as they do? What a concept.

  5. James Coates says:

    It is a big waste of money. Tom Morgan the director in Dubai has been absconding from duty for the past three years the majority of the time …. and surprise he is still being paid in excess of $150,000 a year. Also, the Technical Director in Dubai Vivek Chopra a 32 year old INDIAN REAL IDIOT who knows nothing about broadcasting or IT and who has no managerial experience hires useless guys like himself and has been having a blast wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars of US tax payers money. In fact this useless 32 year old IDIOT is still ranking on the top 100 highest paid federal government contractors for the past 4 years … I believe the US Congress should fire Chopra as he is far more harmful to US interests than Register……….

  6. A Daqn says:

    FYI, Mouafac Harb has shown up of late (today, April 1, 2008) as a “political consultant” based in Beirut — according to Janine Zacharia in “Iran Incites Cold War With U.S. in Lebanon Roiled by Hezbollah” — for Bloomberg.
    Regards –

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