Former head of Al Jazeera gives us a moral lecture on “our” ABC


So refreshing to hear the former head of Al Jazeera (now broadcast two hours a day on the ABC) give us a moral lecture on the ABC’s Q&A on how the media should not get close to power.

No one on Q&A, of course, mentions that Al Jazeera is owned by Qatar’s royal family and promotes the Muslim Brotherhood.

This week’s Q&A had former Al Jazeera boss Wadah Khanfar on to give a sermon on the media. Q&A, Monday:

The trust in mainstream media is declining because I think we came very close to centres of powers, we are not putting the human being at the centre, we are not any more the voice for the voiceless, we have lost courage.

Close to power? Like being owned by Qatar’s royal family? The Economist, January 12, 2013:

Al Jazeera’s breathless boosting of Qatari-backed rebel fighters in Libya and Syria, and of the Qatar-aligned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, have made many Arab viewers question its veracity … and its failure to record the uprising by the Shia majority in Qatar’s neighbour, Bahrain …

But it was Khanfar who built today’s Al Jazeera. He let Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi on the air. Germany’s Der Spiegel, February 15, 2011:

The Al Jazeera television network has been broadcasting Qaradawi’s program Shariah and Life every Sunday for the past 15 years. Some 60 million Muslims watch him as he talks imploringly about the genocide in Gaza or the unique dangers of female masturbation (”the hymen is very sensitive and could tear”)…

Khanfar had to apologise when his Beirut bureau gave convicted terrorist Samir Al-Quntar a surprise birthday party on live television. Israel’s Haaretz, August 6, 2008:

Al Jazeera’s general director, Khanfar Wadah, wrote that “elements of the program” broadcast in Al-Quntar’s honour on the night of Saturday, July 19, “violated (the station’s) Code of Ethics.”

Here’s Khanfar’s offerings on Tony Jones crap-show:

NASSER ZAHR asked: The 2005 Cronulla riots to me would have to be one of the most shameful days in Australia’s modern history. Fake news was sent via text to draw support on both sides inflaming the riots further. Now, we have facebook, twitter etc which is the probably the most open online platforms used by millions.
More and more have the freedom to put out fake news knowing it could spread like fire in a short period.
Don’t you think that it is inevitable that something worse than the Cronulla riots will be instigated on Facebook or Twitter especially with hate speech is on the rise especially against Australian Muslims?

A moral lecture from a Mohammedan headbanger about the so-called Cronulla “riots”,  an event that the fake-stream media used to smear every Australian in the world as inherently “racist”. This was the  crime that is haunting the nation to this very day. 

Donald Trump’s ‘misinformation ecosystem’: Q&A on fake news and the role of the media

Fake news, alternative facts, echo chambers and an “information war”; journalists love a bit of navel-gazing and Monday’s Q&A panel, packed with representatives from the media, was always going to focus heavily on such issues.

US President Donald Trump reared his wispy-haired head regularly throughout, with the guests attempting to dissect how he swept to power through clever manipulation of the media.

The panel was comprised of former director-general of the Al Jazeera Network, Wadah Khanfar, Claire Wardle of First Draft News, The Australian journalist Mark Day representing the news media, and politicians Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, and Labor MP Terri Butler.

There was debate over the very meaning of the phrase ‘fake news’, the power of social media and how the mainstream media needs to invent itself. One thing the panellists agreed upon was that we have never seen a politician like Mr Trump before.

Will the ‘Trump Show’ eventually implode?

Mr Khanfar argued that Mr Trump’s showbiz-styled Presidency can only go on for so long if he isn’t able to back up the rhetoric.

“I think Trump is a big joke. I think Trump is going to fail. 

“He came from a show and he thinks that he can continue running a show. I think he didn’t realise during elections you may have a show — sometimes all of us have shows during elections — but when it comes to real office, now you are a statesman.

“Trump doesn’t understand what that means. So he continues to run the show. 

“Now, will that deliver to the state, to the public, to his particular audience, to the people who he promised to enhance the reality? 

“Is he going to be able to deliver with this kind of show of the tweets and making jokes about the media and so on and so forth? I don’t think so. 

“This could continue for a while. This could be entertaining for all of us, but he is not a statesman and, therefore, I think he is going to fail and even his followers are going to realise they have been misled — yes, he can be utilised in the mainstream in Washington, but I don’t see that he is the best person to really lead.”

Mr Seselja said the mainstream media was partly responsible for Mr Trump’s ascension to the presidency.


“If a politician makes a claim and they can’t back it up, over time they will lose credibility and if you can back up what you say. 

“Our credibility is very important to us. We could argue that politicians right across the board have, from time to time, not lived up to that and they certainly often get punished for that, but we need to value our credibility.

“Donald Trump has certainly said very forcefully that he doesn’t trust the media and certainly many of his supporters don’t trust the media.

“If the mainstream media doesn’t have the trust, of course it will be easier for a politician, especially an effective politician who has a very big following, to avoid them.”

The ‘misinformation ecosystem’

Ms Wardle, who isn’t a fan of the term ‘fake news’ and instead prefers ‘misinformation ecosystem’, said Mr Trump had essentially bypassed traditional media channels to deliver his message.

“Because of Twitter, he can go directly to his audiences and say whatever he likes. The more he says it is ‘fake news’, which is why none of us should use that phrase …

“What he is essentially saying is ‘don’t trust anyone else, follow my Twitter account and trust me’. 

“That is why it is so dangerous. In a democracy we have to have a free press. 

“We we can joke about the term ‘fake news’ but he is doing it deliberately and he’s been very successful.”

Making sense of the modern media landscape

It is no wonder ordinary people are confused about what is true and what is false, according to Ms Wardle, as they are being bombarded with information from a whole variety of new and traditional sources.

“Times have changed. It used to be that we had gate keepers. We had the ABC. They went to the news agent and got their paper and paid their money. Now news comes to us via text message or email or Twitter or Facebook. 

“The design of it is very complicated. We don’t know what is what, which is the mainstream media, which is a blogger or a friend sharing a rumour. It is very difficult to make sense of all of this. 

“So, as citizens of information and consumers of information, we have to learn how to be critical of the information that we consume and journalists have got an important role to play in helping audiences navigate the news ecosystem.

“But as users we have to take responsibility for checking what we are receiving and, crucially, what we share ourselves. 

“We now become publishers when we share. So we have a responsibility to think about that before we retweet.”

Mark Day pointed out that this has (sort of) happened before:

“You have got to remember we have been here before when the printing press was invented. 

“All sorts of people came out and started writing stuff and printing pamphlets and disseminating it. Most of it was false and made up.

“The truth is an emotional decision, it is what you choose to believe and that is a worry.”

According to Mr Khanfar, sometimes the media has set a bad example for people to follow.

“We need to engage with the public in educating and also telling them exactly how they should read us, how they should define our biases and look up what mistakes we do. I think we, as journalists, we have higher ethical role to play in educating the public on how to figure out our own biases before we even start with them telling them your Facebook is full of nonsense. 

“No, I think we sometimes are actually giving them a bad role model on how to do news and how to spread it and how to analyse it and contextualise it.”

Left-wing bias at the ABC?

Do the ABC and most other media organisations have a left-wing bias? Who better to answer that question than a couple of pollies?

Mr Seselja said journalists couldn’t help but bring their own values system to their work, while pointing out funding had already been cut to the ABC.

“We shouldn’t pretend that there is no bias that comes into play, even from very professional journalists who are doing their best because we all have a world view that shapes the way that we look at the world and even when we are doing our level-best to be right down the centre and as fair and impartial as we can, we are always going to be a little bit influenced of our view of the world, the way that we see the world. 

“There is a centre-left bias to an extent.”

Ms Butler said she hadn’t really noticed:

“I don’t have a lot of time to watch the ABC. It is either your show (Q&A) with a diversity of views or the news. I am a member of a left-wing organisation so maybe I can detect biases that favour my own view. It seems likely. 

“I don’t detect any bias in the way that the news is reported and I think you would struggle to argue that the ABC News or ABC News 24 is biased in one direction or the other. 

“If the amendment is about programming content more broadly than the news and current affairs, I think you will probably find, notwithstanding they have cut the funding to the ABC, the Government has been pretty active in looking to find ways to look at what the content is that is broadcast on the ABC TV channels and also on radio and there certainly has been a move, for example, towards more regional and agricultural-based content and that has been pretty obvious over the past few years. 

“I am not sure that the criticism is particularly warranted.”

2 thoughts on “Former head of Al Jazeera gives us a moral lecture on “our” ABC”

  1. The bias is as much in what is not said as what is said. When Islam is dragged, kicking and screaming, into the light and exposed for what it is, I will begin to respect the ABC again. I can’t listen to the apologists for homosexuals, Islam, every loony greenie under the sun and every left wing biased PC whinger any more. I’m sick of the “don’t you think?” brigade as if the only “think” worth having is the PC garbage that passes for reasoned opinion. This first world (supposedly) nation has a third world electricity grid because of greenie group think. Not only that, the cost of this pathetic system is outrageous. Spain is used as an example of a country that has gone to renewables for energy. Yeah, and it is an economic basket case.
    So across the board governments and media are telling us what is right for us without any regards for what we might have to say. No wonder Mr Public is repudiating mainstream politics and choosing fringe politicians instead. Liberal and Labor are on the nose and they are doing little to change it.

  2. That despicable creature. Did not miss the opportunity to mention his fakestinian grandmother while cameras were showing close ups of hijabee racists planted in the room.

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