A political analyst at US cable channel Fox News claimed Qatar’s Al Jazeera network is a mouthpiece for Osama bin Laden and “many, if not most Arabs” support the deceased Al Qaeda leader’s efforts to kill Americans.
Jim Pinkerton, who joined Fox News Channel in 1996 as a political analyst, was a former White House staffer under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and writes for ‘American Conservative’ magazine, made his comments during a panel discussion about Qatar’s Al Jazeera American, which launches in the US today.
During the broadcast, Fox News host Jon Scott stated that “many people saw [Al Jazeera] as a mouthpiece for Osama bin Laden because that was the channel that regularly aired his diatribes right after 9/11.”
Pinkerton agreed with Scott’s assertion, stating “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.”
However, a year after the death of Osama bin Laden a new poll, by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, found Al Qaeda was widely unpopular among Muslim publics.
Conducted March 19 to April 13, 2012, the research found majorities – and mostly large majorities – expressed negative views of the terrorist group in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon.
In Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed by US Navy Seals, 13 percent of Muslims held a favourable view of Al Qaeda, 55 percent an unfavourable view, and roughly 31 percent offered no opinion.
Support for the organisation was in the single digits among Turkish and Lebanese Muslims. In Jordan, just 15 percent expressed a positive opinion, essentially unchanged from 2011, but down significantly from 34 percent in 2010. Al Qaeda receives its highest ratings in Egypt, where 21 percent held a favourable. However, 71 percent of Egyptian Muslims surveyed still reported an unfavourable opinion.
Before his death, Pew Research Center research found support for Bin Laden had waned considerably among Muslims around the world. Perhaps the most striking decline occurred in Jordan, where in 2005 61 percent had expressed confidence in Bin Laden to do the right thing in world affairs. The next year, this number plummeted to 24 percent following Al Qaeda suicide attacks in the nation’s capital, Amman. By 2011, only 13 percent expressed confidence in him.
Despite his reservations about Al Jazeera, Pinkerton did praise it for some of its coverage: “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.”
Stanford University-educated Pinkerton previously worked on the 1980, 1984, 1988 and 1992 Republican presidential campaigns and contributes to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and USA Today, according to his Fox News online biography.