Media Matters for America linked with anti-American, anti-Israel Al-Jazeera network

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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Media Matters for America is linked with Al-Jazeera, the anti-American and anti-Israeli cable news channel, The Daily Caller has learned.

Media Matters Action Network senior foreign policy fellow MJ Rosenberg’s column for the liberal organization regularly appears on Al-Jazeera’s website and, in 2010, Rosenberg represented Media Matters at a forum hosted by Al-Jazeera in Doha, Qatar where he praised the news outlet as “mainstream.”

Media Matters Action Network is part of the organization’s political arm.

According to two Daily Caller sources, the then-director general of Al-Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, also visited Media Matters’ offices in Washington in 2010 and met with the organization’s two top leaders, David Brock and Eric Burns.

Representing Media Matters at the first Al-Jazeera “Unplugged” forum on social media at the Sheraton Hotel & Resort in Doha on May 22, 2010, Rosenberg explained that Khanfar invited him to the forum during a meeting in Washington earlier that year.

In his stunning speech at the forum, Rosenberg praised Al-Jazeera as a “mainstream network,” bashed Fox News, suggested that the U.S. government intentionally bombed an Al-Jazeera bureau and expressed unreserved joy that President Obama was treating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so poorly.

“Bush has been replaced by Obama,” Rosenberg said.

“Yes, I applaud too. Which means people from the United States government go on Al-Jazeera. This is very significant. Under the Bush administration, Al-Jazeera was boycotted by the United — it was worse than boycotted: As you well know, it was bombed by orders of the United States government.”

Rosenberg was presumably referring to either the U.S. bombing of Al-Jazeera’s Baghdad bureau in 2003, which killed one journalist, or the bombing of an Al-Jazeera office in Kabul in 2001. The U.S. government maintains both were accidental, not intentional.

While Rosenberg called Fox News “a very, very dangerous force in the United States” and Fox News host Sean Hannity “one of the biggest right wing liars on Fox News” during the speech, he praised Al-Jazeera as “mainstream” and “factual.”

“It just shows that everywhere in the world people are watching Al-Jazeera because people know it’s going to be — one, it’s factual,” he said.

“It has footage, it has pictures which we are essentially not allowed to see in the United States, that the networks don’t allow of what is going on in Iraq, what’s going on in Afghanistan.”

Bizarrely, Rosenberg also claimed the left-of-center New Republic magazine, which regularly defends President Obama, was “very much of a right wing, Jewish publication.”

In his speech, Rosenberg also praised Obama for treating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu worse than any American president has ever treated an Israeli prime minister.

“When Netanyahu came to Washington, no president has ever treated an Israeli prime minister as coldly as Netanyahu was treated by Obama,” Rosenberg said, with obvious joy, to what was presumably a largely Arab audience.

“Suddenly Israel today is, even though it gets what it wants to a certain extent, Israel is treated as another country, a foreign country, which makes it no different than all the other foreign countries. That is what Obama is trying to do: take Israel away from being the 51st state and make it a foreign country like Lebanon or France or any normal foreign country.”

“He has done that,” Rosenberg added. “You know, he has sent the Arab world signals from day one of where his heart is.”

Rosenberg has recently become a lightning rod for questioning the loyalty of American supporters of Israel by calling them “Israel firsters” and for taking other radical positions. Alan Dershowitz, the liberal Harvard Law School professor, has denounced him in a series of recent interviews and articles, suggesting that Rosenberg’s rhetoric and ideas are similar to what neo-Nazi and pro-Hezbollah websites offer.

Absent from Rosenberg’s speech at the May 2010 forum was any criticism of Arab authoritarianism or any recognition of the threats Israel faces from Palestinian terrorism and Iranian nuclear proliferation. Rosenberg also didn’t offer any criticism of the anti-American, anti-Israeli biases of Al-Jazeera.

Rosenberg’s writings for the Media Matters Action Network are also regularly published on Al-Jazeera’s website. Some of those writings include outlandish conspiracy theories.

For instance, in a column entitled “Will AIPAC and Bibi get their war?” that appeared on Al-Jazeera’s website, Rosenberg suggested that American officials were mere puppets of the Israelis.

“So here’s a theory: Netanyahu and his camp followers here do not really want a war now,” he wrote.

“They just want it understood that they can dictate whether there is one or not. And when. In other words, they want to show who is boss (it’s not like we don’t know).”

In the same article, Rosenberg suggested Israel is trying to manipulate America into fighting its battles for it.

“Only, it’s not an illusion,” he wrote. “And it certainly won’t be if Netanyahu gets the president he wants in November — a Republican who will fight the war Netanyahu wants but isn’t eager to fight himself. Surely Mitt or Rick or Newt will do it for him.”

Rosenberg tweeted his latest Al-Jazeera piece, published March 15, titled “Not blindly, not arbitrarily.” Al-Jazeera English also tweeted it out, summing up the article, “Op-ed: The #ArabLeague wants peace. Israel wants power. #Palestine just wants the occupation to end.”

Joel Mowbray, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told TheDC that Rosenberg’s Jewish heritage provides Al-Jazeera cover.

“Here’s what Al-Jazeera probably does like — is if they can get less heat for anti-Semitic comments from having them come from a Jew,” said Mowbray.

“And that’s where I think someone like MJ Rosenberg does real damage,” he added, “because Al-Jazeera is actually sensitive about how it is viewed in the West, even in respect to anti-Semitism.”

“They have a number of Jews, by the way, on staff or people who write for them, it’s not just MJ Rosenberg,” Mowbray added. “And many of them are actually in the mainstream. But MJ Rosenberg, you have to wonder, if he satisfies a certain closet desire from at least some people at Al-Jazeera to have a Jew who can be so savage and frankly inaccurate and untruthful in his criticisms of Israel or America.”

Founded by the Emir of Qatar in the mid-1990s, Al-Jazeera first came to prominence as the go-to media outlet of al-Qaida.

“We all do know the history of Al-Jazeera of really coming to prominence, at least to the West and frankly even in the Arab world, as being the outlet of choice for al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden,” Mowbray explained.

David Pollock, the Kaufmann Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told TheDC that the Al-Jazeera network rarely frames America in a positive light, and that it is “definitely anti-Israel.” He also said criticism of Qatar or the other Gulf countries on the channel was nonexistent.

“Of course there is never any criticism of anything in sort of traditional Islamic countries in the Gulf, Arab countries — Saudi Arabia, Qatar — you know, their sponsor,” said Pollock.

“Or I would say sort of mainstream Islamic movements in other places like Turkey or Egypt … Very, very rare to see anything like that.”

Josh Block, senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and a former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said he is not surprised by Media Matters’ or MJ Rosenberg’s association with Al-Jazeera.

“For Al-Jazeera, Media Matter’s MJ Rosenberg is a dream come true,” Block told TheDC.

“What better than a Jew who uses anti-Semitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories to confirm Al-Jazeera’s own version of the same. As the old saying goes, birds of a feather flock together.”

Neither MJ Rosenberg nor Media Matters returned TheDC’s requests for comment.

Tucker Carlson contributed to this report.

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