Posted by Curt on 28 March, 2019 at 1:57 pm. Be the first to comment!


In the wake of the terrible terror attack on two mosques that left nearly 50 dead in New Zealand, cable news outlets can’t seem to get enough of a certain very articulate man with a British accent who spits fire against Donald Trumpand rails against Islamophobia and Israel.

Mehdi Hasan seems to be everywhere on TV these days. Reliably Trump-obsessed cable channels like CNN and MSNBC relish the opportunity to promote a foreign-born Muslim guest who, they believe, has the credibility to call the president and his supporters racists and white supremacists.

And Mr. Hasan, for his part, is relishing both the spotlight and the opportunity to make his case directly to an anti-Trump audience in the United States.

After spending the last several years claiming to be concerned about hostile countries interfering in American politics, though, it’s a bit jarring to see the employee of a state-run media outlet hostile to the United States appear so frequently on CNN and MSNBC.

By promoting Mr. Hasan, these cable news outlets are facilitating the insertion of foreign propaganda into the American political debate.

Mr. Hasan works for al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned media enterprise that advances the interests of the state and its royal family. When he speaks, he’s no less a government spokesman than Kellyanne Conway or Sarah Sanders.

But the government he represents — to millions of unsuspecting American viewers — has long promoted the Muslim Brotherhood, funds the bloodthirsty designated terror group Hamas, has helped al Qaeda and the Taliban fundraise, and is relentlessly hostile to American interests. In addition to supporting terrorism against Israel, Qatar uses its powerful media infrastructure to destabilize our Arab allies in the region by fomenting revolution inside their borders.

What these networks are doing is unwittingly participating in an information operation. Because CNN or MSNBC’s viewers agree with Mr. Hasan’s anti-Trump message, they’ll trust him on other issues as well.

Al Jazeera’s near-nightly presence on cable news represents an alarming example of how Qatar uses the infrastructure of American partisan politics and media to advance its interests, but it’s only one of many.

I appear in a new film on this subject, titled “Blood Money.” It details how Qatar buys cover for its malign activities by spreading money around Washington and funding and promoting sympathetic voices to advance its agenda.

Of course, there’s foreign lobbyist money — and a lot of it — but the film focuses primarily on Qatar’s information operations. Qatar is tiny in size but vastly wealthy due to its location above one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world. Qatar is creative and ambitious in its funding of campaigns to manipulate narratives and perceptions using influential voices like Mehdi Hasan’s.

The sums of money are so large — and the effort to evade the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) and other disclosure laws are so comprehensive — that we don’t have anywhere near a complete picture of the scope of Qatar’s influence game. What we do know is worrying enough:

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