Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, whose speeches were carried live and unedited on Alhurra. The State Department lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Lost in Translation:
Alhurra—America’s Troubled Effort to Win Middle East Hearts and Minds
by Dafna Linzer
An Arab-language television network and radio station, founded by the Bush administration to promote a positive image of the United States, has aired anti-American and anti-Israeli viewpoints, has showcased pro-Iranian policies and recently gave air time to a militant who called for the death of American soldiers in Iraq.
So far, U.S. taxpayers have spent nearly $500 million to fund those broadcasts. The television station, called Alhurra, and the radio network, Sawa, were meant to provide an American perspective on world events and counter the wave of global criticism that had been building against the Bush administration since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Instead, Alhurra’s four years of operation have been marked by a string of broadcast disasters that government officials believe are as negative as anything aired by Al Jazeera, the widely watched Qatar-based station that aired unedited speeches of Osama bin Laden.
Alhurra’s reporters and commentators operate with little oversight. Alhurra’s president, Brian Conniff, does not speak Arabic and is unable to understand anything broadcast on the radio and television networks he is paid to manage. Conniff has no journalism experience and worked previously as a government auditor. His news director, Daniel Nassif, grew up in Lebanon and has no background in television. Before coming to the network, he helped promote the political aspirations in Washington of a Lebanese Christian former general.
Both men said in interviews that they are providing effective supervision of the network’s five 24-hour radio and television broadcasts and they praised their staff as professional and committed. A string of highly publicized “mistakes” are behind them, Conniff said.
That does not appear to be the case. (more)