PHILADELPHIA – August 13, 2018 – The Middle East Forum (MEF) congratulates President Donald Trump on signing the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This legislation includes language supported by MEF compelling greater transparency by foreign-owned media outlets operating in the United States. The law addresses all foreign owned media, but its passage results primarily from abuses by Al Jazeera, the Qatari government's network.
The relevant section of the NDAA is H.R. 5515, Section 1085, "Disclosure Requirements for United States-Based Foreign Media Outlets." It requires foreign media outlets to file a report every six months with data about their structure and finances, then makes this report public 30 days later.
Al Jazeera has surpassed 1 billon views on YouTube and has over 10 million followers on Facebook. Al Jazeera English operates bureaus in Washington, New York, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles. According to the Congressional Directory, there were 175 Al Jazeera staffers credentialed by the House and Senate in 2016. That year, the New York Times had 43 and the Washington Post 111.
The Justice Department recently required the Russian based TV station RT to register as a foreign agent due to Russian interference in American elections. YouTube now requires the disclaimer that "Al Jazeera is funded in whole or in part by the Qatari government" on each of its videos.
MEF has longstanding concerns about the Qatari government's support for Islamism. Its research showed the Qatar Foundation spending more than $30 million to gain influence within U.S. public schools. MEF has been critical of Al Jazeera, calling it "a political project masquerading in the guise of journalism." Following up on this critique, MEF representatives visited dozens of Congressional offices to explain the need for the NDAA to address this problem.
MEF President Daniel Pipes notes that, "As Qatar is locked in a bitter dispute with several of America's regional allies, the American people need to know in detail about the activities of its media arm."
MEF Director Gregg Roman adds: "That Al Jazeera has more reporters covering Congress than the New York Times and the Washington Post combined hints at something going on beyond journalism. With more transparency, we will learn more about the Qatari government's intentions."'
The Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum promotes American interests and works to protect Western civilization from the threat of Islamism.
For more information or comment, contact:
Gregg Roman, Director