Al-Jazeera and al-Jazeera English have long claimed independence from their benefactor in Qatar, but criticism of Qatar’s ruling family or its government has been almost nonexistent on the channels, said Steven Stalinsky, the executive director of Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an organization that monitors Arabic media and describes itself as nonpartisan.
Stalinsky has documented ties between al-Jazeera’s management and journalists — including its former boss, Wadah Khanfar — and the Muslim Brotherhood, the pan-Arabic political movement. He is particularly critical of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Muslim cleric who appears frequently on al-Jazeera to inveigh against Jews, the United States and gays and has praised suicide bombings. Stalinsky calls AJE “a paler version” of the Arab channel that is less hostile to Western interests.
As for the American version: “It’s impossible to know what it will be. . . . All I can really say is that it has the same owners and the same money as their other channels,” he said.