A blockbuster Politico story on Al-Jazeera claims that the Republican-oriented lobbying firm, Barbour, Griffith & Rogers (BGR), worked on behalf of Qatar, as well as Al-Jazeera. But Loren Monroe, the spokesman for the firm, is denying it, telling AIM, “We did not represent Al-Jazeera.”
The charge that a prominent lobbying firm represented Al-Jazeera is politically explosive not only because of the high-level Republican connections, but because the “Barbour” in BGR is Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate.
Qatar sponsors and funds Al-Jazeera but the government and the channel have tried to create the perception that the network is somehow independent. Generally, Qatar has been regarded by some as friendly to the U.S. while Al-Jazeera was considered an enemy of what the U.S. was trying to accomplish in Iraq and around the Middle East. The channel developed a reputation as “Jihad TV” or “Terror Television” because of its airing of videos from al-Qaeda. One of its correspondents went to prison in Spain as an agent of al-Qaeda.
Politico reporters Keach Hagey and Byron Tau said, “A person familiar with the Qatar contact confirmed to Politico that BGR and Al-Jazeera have a long-standing relationship, and that the network embarked on a PR push during the latter half of the Bush administration.”
This “long-standing relationship” between BGR and Al-Jazeera (and Qatar) became more direct and substantial when Ben Smith’s Politico blog said that the representation of Al-Jazeera was “part of their contract with Qatar in a mid-2000s PR push to rehabilitate the controversial Arab network.”
Read More at GOPUSA by Cliff Kincaid
Photo Credit: Donkey Hotey (Creative Commons)
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