On Monday, during a panel discussion about the launch of Al Jazeera America, a Fox News political analyst explained the channel’s popularity in the Arab world by claiming that most Arabs sympathize with Osama bin Laden’s efforts to kill Americans.
Jim Pinkerton, who is also a contributing editor and writer for “American Conservative” magazine, agreed with host Jon Scott’s proposition that Al Jazeera served as a mouthpiece for the dead terrorist leader and explained that “many if not most Arabs” agreed with his goals:
SCOTT: What about the editorial side of it, Jim? I mean, Al-Jazeera, many people saw it as a mouthpiece for Osama bin Laden because that was the channel that regularly aired his diatribes right after 9/11.
PINKERTON: Well, I think there is something to that. But look, they’re an Arab news channel and let’s face it, many if not most Arabs probably support what bin Laden was trying to do in terms of killing Americans and so on. The polls, certainly from the Pew Center certainly show that. Look, they cover stuff. I give them credit on stories like Egypt and Syria I find myself watching. I’m under no illusion as to their bias but they spend real money to put real reporters into hot zones and cover them and they do it hours on end. There’s a value to it.
The Pew surveys Pinkerton cites actually came to the opposite conclusion. “In the months leading up to Osama bin Laden’s death, a survey of Muslim publics around the world found little support for the al Qaeda leader.” The survey, conducted in 2011, found that “[m]inorities of Muslims in Indonesia (26%), Egypt (22%) and Jordan (13%) expressed confidence in bin Laden, while he has almost no support among Turkish (3%) or Lebanese Muslims (1%).” On the anniversary of bin Laden’s death, another Pew poll concluded that al Qaeda is still “widely unpopular among Muslim publics.”
Al Jazeera America, which acquired Current TV in January, launches in the United States on Tuesday. It will initially be available “in about 48 million of the country’s roughly 100 million homes that subscribe to television.”