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CNN, Qatar and the Targeting of Saudi Arabia

CNN, Qatar and the Targeting of Saudi Arabia

Thursday, 4 April, 2019 - 06:30
Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Since the start of the crisis over Khashoggi’s death, the media targeting of Saudi Arabia reached an unprecedented extent. Six months have passed with tens of thousands of news, reports, analyses, articles and interviews - part of which is a repetition of the same old stories and the other relies on anonymous sources, hundreds of inciting articles and incredible false accounts.

It was an unprecedented campaign, clearly aimed at harming the Kingdom and its leadership. As objectivity was lacking, analyses became information and speculations turned into news. Much respected media institutions saw their credibility compromised from within.

Perhaps the first person to reveal this reality - despite the world’s reluctance to believe him - was US President Donald Trump, whose relations with a number of US media institutions witnessed a high level of tension. On several occasions, he accused them of lying and even went on to describe them as “the false news media.” Trump, unfortunately, proved to be sincere and did not exaggerate in challenging those institutions.

We all remember how The Washington Post was caught up in a scandal, with the publishing of text messages between Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and executive director of Qatar Foundation International (QFI), Maggie Mitchell Salem, which revealed how the QFI shaped the columns wrote by Khashoggi in the newspaper. Maggie suggested topics and drafted the articles and pushed the late journalist to adopt a tougher stance against the Saudi government.

Today, a new scandal emerged, but this time in the audiovisual media, on the most popular news network, CNN. “Conservative Review” magazine published names of people working for CNN and are very close to Qatar. It noted that many of the national security experts, who work for CNN, have direct links with the State of Qatar. This prompted Trump’s eldest son, Junior, to tweet that he was “shocked” by the report.

What is important here is the link between the two scandals. Qatar uses dirty money and illegally infiltrates media outlets for one goal - to polish its image and target the Kingdom.

Perhaps only these two scandals became known to the public. But how many media outlets have been soaked with Qatari money and are harming the Kingdom, without being uncovered?

Undoubtedly, anyone who follows the American media is aware that not everything that comes out of it is 100% true. It is no exaggeration to say that there are countries that seek to penetrate some of these institutions. This sometimes leads to a deliberate coverage of the abuse, as in the crisis of Khashoggi's killing.

However, despite all attempts to target the Kingdom, whether, with Qatari or other money, the successes of Saudi Arabia have prompted a government like Qatar to use all immoral means to attack the Kingdom repeatedly and wrongly.

However, the bitter truth for Qatar and its allies in media targeting - whether Iran or Turkey - is that the media campaigns have failed to achieve their goals, and turned negatively on those who planned and executed them. Turkey is busy with the huge loss of the sultan’s party in the elections, Iran is facing more painful sanctions, while Qatar has not succeeded in overcoming the social, economic and political losses resulting from the Quartet’s blockade.

The successive media scandals confirm that the Arab Quartet was right in boycotting a country that exploited the media in the ugliest way to refine its image and harm that of its neighbors.

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