Special Report: Columbia University

Soros Funds Next Generation of Liberal Journalism

In 2011, Columbia University offered its highest honor, the Columbia Award, to Al Jazeera English. This was not only noteworthy because Al Jazeera has extensive connections to terror groups in the Middle East, but it was the first time that an organization, and not an individual, received the award. Columbia University School of Journalism Dean Nicholas Lemman called Al Jazeera English “a vital source of news on changing events in the Middle East and North Africa” that “offers unparalleled coverage of this region.” But this “vital source of news” has repeatedly bashed the U.S., Israel, and the West in general, while catering to terrorists.

Notorious for its anti-U.S. bias, Al Jazeera is the same “news” organization that, in 2008, threw a birthday party for Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar who had previously killed a police officer, a civilian and a 4-year-old girl. Amid the cake and fireworks, an Al Jazeera interviewer told the terrorist, “You deserve even more than this.”

Al Jazeera English was called out by liberal Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart for completely ignoring the incident when some 200 men sexually assaulted CBS correspondent Lara Logan during the “Arab Spring” celebrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. “Is that not newsworthy? I'm at a loss for what would drive a news network to ignore news,” Capehart wrote. AJE laughably responded that it “believes, as a general rule” that journalists “are not the story.”

Columbia Journalism School Adjunct Professor Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, who created, produced and cohosted Al Jazeera English’s show “The Stream,” serves as an adjunct assistant professor for CUSJ. He is also an alumnus. Shihab-Eldin also hosts “HuffPost Live,” where he often pushes an anti-Israeli agenda, including accusing Israel of “terrorizing” Gaza.

Al Jazeera English was awarded more than just the highest award that Columbia could give. It was also granted a fellowship, and allowed to host an episode of its show, “Empire,” with a guest panel of full-time CUSJ professors. The Al Jazeera English Fellowship, which was announced in 2011, sends two students a year to the network’s headquarters in Qatar. The students then work in an Al Jazeera English newsroom for 12 weeks. This is the first partnership with Al Jazeera English and a university in the United States.

CUSJ has also allowed a number of Al Jazeera hosts to speak as guest lecturers, including Marwan Bishara host of Al Jazeera English’s “Empire,” and Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros of Al Jazeera Gaza, who’s lecture amounted to a very anti-Israeli report on the conflict in Gaza. Bishara is the senior political analyst for Al Jazeera and has written at least one article for Al Jazeera bashing the U.S. presence in Afganistan.

Both Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera English are owned by a member of Qatar's royal family and funded through loans from Qatar's government. Arab-language Al Jazeera has a history of strident anti-Americanism, of acting as a willing vehicle for Islamist propaganda, and of coloring reports to inflame Muslim opinion against the West.

In the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden, AJE's website was filled with anti-American and anti-Israeli op-eds. Al Jazeera has run articles bashing Israel, comparing President Obama to Osama bin Laden, speaking out against capitalism, and protesting the war in Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Despite all of this, Washington State University dean Lawrence Pintak wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review (which is run by CUSJ) for May/June 2011, that “the political skew that colors some stories on Al Jazeera Arabic seems largely absent from Al Jazeera English.” Pintak gushed that, “with the Egyptian revolution, Al Jazeera English has come of age. The channel's 24/7 coverage had no English-language rival.” CJR pushed Pintak's article, calling Al Jazeera English the “balanced, thorough, and cosmopolitan cousin of Arab-centric Al Jazeera Arabic.”

Ayman Mohyeldin told Pintak how Al Jazeera Arabic views its audience. “The Arab viewer doesn't want just news, they want something a little bit more polemic,” explains Mohyeldin. “They want to feel they have someone who is fighting on their behalf.”

And Al Jazeera does nothing if not satisfy its audience. In 2003, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called its Iraq War coverage “vicious, inaccurate, and inexcusable.”

CUSJ listed Al Jazeera English and Current TV (which has been bought by Al Jazeera) as potential vendors at its upcoming jobs fair for 2013. Both were also in attendance for the 2012 jobs fair.