Joel Mowbray reports: The scapegoating begins

Joel Mowbray ([email protected]) writes:

The first firings resulting from my columns in the Wall Street Journal (March 12 and May 1) have been handed down at Al-Hurra, the U.S. taxpayer-financed Arab TV network that recently has become a platform for Islamic terrorists and Holocaust deniers.
Two of the reporters who filed some of the most egregious stories were canned last week, but the person ultimately responsible for those stories (and many more), news director Larry Register, is still gainfully employed.
Maybe not for long, though. As seen in not-yet-reported evidence that will be discussed below, Register had plenty of warning that at least two of the now-infamous stories should have been questioned before airing.
While Register has alternately feigned ignorance and blamed rogue staffers, he cannot de-link himself from Al-Hurra’s puff pieces on Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial conference or the shocking “follow-up” story the network did on the Neturei Karta, the fringe anti-Zionist, ultra-orthodox Jews who met with the Iranian leader.
For a moment, let’s give Register the benfit of the doubt and say that, because he doesn’t speak or understand Arabic, he had no idea how bad the content was of the broadcasts from Tehran.
Even if that were the case, though, the set-up was eyebrow-raising. One reporter was in Tehran faithfully covering the gathering of the deniers, followed a reporter from Jerusalem, giving the Jewish “response.” When it comes to Holocaust denial, you don’t need to speak Arabic to know that Ahmadinejad’s conference shouldn’t be covered in standard point-counterpoint format. (That was only on the first day. The report from the conference’s second day was not even followed by a report from Jerusalem.)
Holocaust deniers — especially when addressing Arab viewers — can’t be allowed to spread their poison unchallenged. In the name of “free speech,” many might ask: what’s the harm in letting them have their say? In the Arab world, plenty. Even most mainstream Arab media outlets won’t state that Hitler killed six million Jews, as Holocaust denial is rampant across the region. If Register doesn’t know this, then he doesn’t know the Arab world.
As mentioned above, Register had reason for concern. On the morning of December 12, the second day of the Holocaust denial conference, the “coverage sheet,” an e-mail of English-language headlines for the news stories Al-Hurra plans to cover on a given day, included the following:

“Iran pressed on with a controversial conference on the Holocaust where a host of Western ‘revisionists’ cast doubt on whether the mass slaughter of six million Jews in World War II took place.”

Not that they attempted to cast doubt or claimed they had casted doubt. This is not unfair parsing, especially given the sensitivity of the subject. It’s particularly troubling when looked at in combination with the “coverage sheet” from the day of the follow-up story on the Neturei Karta.
The January 20 follow-up with the Neturei Karta in NYC — more than a month later — gave no indication that they were an extremist fringe among Jews, and the English-language description — like the December 12 one, approved by Register — described Ahmadinejad’s event as a “a conference in Tehran debating the Holocaust” (emphasis added). Since when is the Holocaust a debatable event?
Perhaps most damning is that Register waited until public outrage to fire the two reporters. Why not after the broadcasts in December and January, respectively? If not then, why not at least in March, after Congress requested DVDs specifically of those broadcasts? After all, it wouldn’t have taken Register long to review the programs and realize what had happened. So why not act right away?
Register apparently believes that he’s heading off congressional calls for his ouster by firing two reporters. If those broadcasts were the only “mistakes,” maybe. But the evidence is clear: Register changed the very nature of the network, and the puff pieces of Holocaust deniers were in keeping with the “new” Al-Hurra.
If that alone isn’t reason enough to fire Register, what would be?


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