Alhurra Controversies Grow

Alhurra's "Inside Washington" showThe U.S. government-funded Arabic news channel Alhurra "paid former Bush and Clinton administration officials, lobbyists and high-profile Washington journalists tens of thousands of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money to appear on the network as commentators," report Dafna Linzer and Paul Kiel. "While it is common for television networks to pay journalists who appear on their programs, many reporters decline to accept money from government-funded organizations." Media ethics specialist Kelly McBride commented, "You wouldn't let a reporter take money from a clearly partisan group. The same standard should apply to taking money from an operation set up by the government to influence opinion." The highest-paid Alhurra commentator was Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute, who received $10,300. Donnelly said his discussions of the U.S. presidential primaries on Alhurra were "useful" in highlighting "the competitive and participatory nature of an American democracy." Other paid guests include Republican official turned lobbyist Chad Kolton and Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen recently called for an investigation of Alhurra, following reports on station practices and broadcasts of "anti-American and anti-Israeli viewpoints," along with "pro-Iranian policies."