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"The station's gaffes have included broadcasting in December 2006 a 68-minute call to arms against Israelis by a senior figure of the terrorist group Hezbollah..."
May 22, 2007 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program. That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, ... from their About US page: Alhurra is operated by non-profit corporation “The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc.” (MBN). MBN is financed by the American people through the U.S Congress. US Govt. Accountability Office abstract about other MBN problems here.
posted by amberglow (44 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
(oop--pretend there's a line break between "messages" and "from")
posted by amberglow at 11:22 AM on May 22, 2007


Perhaps it's time for their last Hurra, eh? Get it? Thanks I'll be here all week, folks! Don't forget to tip your waiter.
posted by Mister_A at 11:25 AM on May 22, 2007


a little more here (WSJ Op-Ed)-- Mad TV
posted by amberglow at 11:27 AM on May 22, 2007


Lots of al Hurra blogging goodness by the excellent Abu Aardvark.
posted by NoMich at 11:27 AM on May 22, 2007


"Blaya conceded that the top officials in the network's chain of command could not understand what was being said on al Hurra broadcasts."

I would concede that every one of the top officials were very loyal republicans who had no clue how to do the job they were gifted with.

This would be my surprised face.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:29 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


MBN EXEC:
What's all this here? Why's that angry guy wearin' a mask and pointin' his gun at the camera?

SNEAKY ARAB PRODUCER:
It is the arabic version of "The Wiggles", my friend. Very popular.

MBN EXEC:
Them arab wiggles sure sing about Allah a lot.

SNEAKY ARAB PRODUCER:
They sing "Marla", after sexy American Marla Maples.

MBN EXEC:
Oh, alright then.
posted by Mister_A at 11:33 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


thanks, NoMich -- ...The station's management seemed far more interested in promoting itself in Congress than in the Middle East, exemplified by its endlessly chipper, exaggerated claims about a vast market share rarely replicated in independent market surveys. By last year, most observers had come around to my argument that al-Hurra was a white elephant, an expensive irrelevance. Very few American officials even bothered to appear on it, preferring to spend their valuable time on Arabic TV stations with an actual audience. ...
posted by amberglow at 11:33 AM on May 22, 2007


This is yet another example on the incompetent and non-qualified running the show.
posted by ericb at 11:36 AM on May 22, 2007


I know we're all wearing our 'surprised faces' and all that, but each new example of your tax dollars being wasted on incompetence ought to have you writing daily to your elected representatives.

Currently, your representatives are backing down from their promise to hold the President accountable for the Iraq War. Without your words, why should they hold him accountable for anything?
posted by NationalKato at 11:46 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Currently, your representatives are backing down from their promise to hold the President accountable for the Iraq War."

I now hold the Democrats responsible for every additional death...

Time for a third party.
posted by HuronBob at 11:58 AM on May 22, 2007


they're hiring, by the way, but only if you speak Arabic.
posted by parmanparman at 12:01 PM on May 22, 2007


ought to have you writing daily to your elected representatives

...which is supposed to accomplish what, exactly?
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:13 PM on May 22, 2007


How would they know that I don't speak Arabic?

Besides, they sound a lot more "Fair and Balanced" than Fox News.
posted by wendell at 12:17 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Without your words, why should they hold him accountable for anything?

No one cares because it's us and them. It was a racist war from the start, and racism continues to drive the war.
posted by cell divide at 12:21 PM on May 22, 2007


Mars Saxman: ...which is supposed to accomplish what, exactly?

I take it you're not clear on what Congressmen do?
posted by NationalKato at 12:22 PM on May 22, 2007


NationalKato wrote :"I take it you're not clear on what Congressmen do?"

Um, let's see. Spend tax dollars, meet with lobbyists, spend tax dollars, pander to political action groups, spend tax dollars, raise money for campaign war chests, spend tax dollars. Oh, and eat lunch at expensive restaurants in D.C. and their home districts. With tax dollars. Did I miss anything? Oh, right, completely ignore the rest of the populous that isn't already handing them money.
posted by daq at 12:43 PM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ah, good old 'public diplomacy'^.
posted by Drexen at 12:50 PM on May 22, 2007


!!!!
posted by serazin at 12:51 PM on May 22, 2007


Also, from NationalKato's post:

"Democratic lawmakers are under pressure to send Bush an emergency spending bill [without a pullout-timeline provision] before the Memorial Day break or risk being blamed for withholding critical funding for U.S. troops."

Just one of many issues one could say this about, but I don't understand how this freaky bit of doublethink is acceptable.
posted by Drexen at 12:56 PM on May 22, 2007


Yup, and we're all still paying for Radio Martí, too.
posted by pax digita at 1:41 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't be so dismissive (though these folks may be fuck ups). Radio Free Europe/BBC Europe/Deutsche Welle did a lot to bring down the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. Really.
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:49 PM on May 22, 2007


Every American dollar spent and life lost in Iraq has directly empowered Iran and a decades-long Iranian/Shia hegemony throughout the region.

People are going to shit themselves when they realize this in a few decades. Stuff like this will make perfect sense.
posted by bardic at 2:23 PM on May 22, 2007


The difference is tho, that the Middle East already has a ton of popular channels (esp by satellite) that give the people what they want. It's not like the Cold War days, where all they had was state-run channels.

They didn't need a US propaganda channel, and we messed that up anyway.
posted by amberglow at 2:24 PM on May 22, 2007


Seriously, what the fuck people?! How stupid do these people consider Arabs to be?? Seriously, what the fuck? Here, Americans will set up a TV channel so you can view our take on your world! What, watching CNN and gagging isn't enough? Now we need a fucking Arabic channel for warmongering murderous fuckers?

What the fuck?! WHAT THE FUCK AMERICA? WHAT THE FUCK? HERE WE'LL DROP SOME BOMBS ON YOUR FUCKING HEADS HURF DURF HERES A FUCKING TV CHANNEL TO FUCK YOU PEOPLE.
posted by Firas at 7:24 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just please don't bomb any country for completely random reasons from now on ok? It's just not nice.
posted by Firas at 7:47 PM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]



Dude. Firas. Where do you get your coffee? Will they ship overseas?
posted by From Bklyn at 12:32 AM on May 23, 2007


Wait till they get their hands on these very thin, 1% of the people, survey results, Firas... here, have some strong filter coffee :)
posted by infini at 4:49 AM on May 23, 2007


Oh, for fuck's sake. It's not like we don't have enough Arabic translators.

OH WAIT, we don't, 'cause we fire 'em all for being gay.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:52 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


How stupid do these people consider Arabs to be?

About equally stupid as the American public? Think Fox News, American Idol, etc. Now that's TV worth watching! or not.

So, no Arabic speaking Young Republicans at the Heritage Society eh?
posted by nofundy at 7:22 AM on May 23, 2007


yup, bitter--... "For some reason, the military seems more afraid of gay people than they are against terrorists, but they're very brave with the terrorists," Ackerman said.."If the terrorists ever got a hold of this information, they'd get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad."

The remark drew some smiles from fellow members of the panel, but Rice was stone faced.

He then asked directly why the State Department had not looked at the fired gay linguists.

"Can we marry up those two — or maybe that's the wrong word — can we have some kind of union of those two issues?" Ackerman asked.

"Congressman Ackerman, I'm not aware of the availability of people, but I certainly will look [at] what we are doing right now," Rice replied, adding that the department had increased staff in many critical areas but needs additional people at higher levels.

"But maybe you might find some of those competent people among those who are recently unemployed."

"We'll look at it," is all Ackerman could get Rice to commit to.

"Secretary Rice would have no trouble finding gay linguists," said Sharon Alexander, deputy director of policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

"In fact, our government could go a long way in addressing the shortage of language expertise by doing just as Congressman Ackerman suggests. SLDN would be happy to introduce Secretary Rice to our many clients who speak Arabic but have been dismissed because of the ban," said Alexander....

posted by amberglow at 7:24 AM on May 23, 2007


oh, tangentially related and an update to an old post of mine: GSA chief violated Hatch Act, OSC report finds
posted by amberglow at 8:30 AM on May 23, 2007


"If the terrorists ever got a hold of this information, they'd get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad."

Quite possibly the funniest thing I've read all day -- thanks, amberglow!

Except if they really want to mess with us, they'd get some boring, middle-aged gay men to chase us out (what's Arabic for "Adam and Steve"?) -- lesbians are still too titillating in the popular male imagination, plus more likely to be subject to the ol' "you just need a man, and by golly, I'm an American soldier!"-thing.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:14 AM on May 23, 2007


speaking of lesbians, the NYT, for an article about Brits and their gay soldiers, used the most stereotypical pic ever.
posted by amberglow at 9:51 AM on May 23, 2007


Eeesh, yes, amberglow.

The British military actively recruits gay men and lesbians and punishes any instance of intolerance or bullying. The Royal Navy advertises for recruits in gay magazines and has allowed gay sailors to hold civil partnership ceremonies on board ships and, last summer, to march in full naval uniform at a gay pride rally in London.

Loved this quote from the article, though. Go, Navy! Even here in the US the Navy seems to be the most open-minded, at least from my experience in dealing with military members...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:52 AM on May 23, 2007


Al HurraJazeera television, the U.S.UK government's effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, was run by BBC executives and officials who could not speak Arabic,...
posted by Pollomacho at 11:58 AM on May 23, 2007


Is Al Jazeera really British? Who owns it?
posted by amberglow at 4:33 PM on May 23, 2007


Even here in the US the Navy seems to be the most open-minded, at least from my experience in dealing with military members...

You reminded me -- the fleet's in town! ; >

I've met more closeted Navy people than any others, but there's also been extreme and horrendous violence. (Schindler)
posted by amberglow at 4:35 PM on May 23, 2007


OH WAIT, we don't, 'cause we fire 'em all for being gay.

An update --

Hearing Sought Over Linguists' Discharge
"Lawmakers who say the military has kicked out 58 Arabic language experts because they were gay want the Pentagon to explain how it can afford to let the valuable specialists go."
posted by ericb at 6:16 PM on May 23, 2007


Well, if you want the law changed, its Congress's deal. The executive commands us, but the legislative regulates us. Individual commanders have a certain amount of leeway (depending on the situation, they can choose not to forward to separation), but ultimately must follow the orders of those appointed over them. Not to say that violence should ever be the answer (for any situation - it makes me just as sad when I hear about a fellow sailor killed by a spouse or in a racially motivated incident), its just that the law makes it hard for people to seek protection without leaving their career behind.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:33 PM on May 23, 2007


Is Al Jazeera really British? Who owns it?

It was created by the BBC from the BBC World Service's Arabic-language news service to be an "objective island" (thus the name Al Jazeera meaning the Island) of news in the Arab world.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:01 AM on May 24, 2007


thank you pollomacho, it is heartening to find a value system behind a broadcasting service. history will have to say of the british, imho, regardless of what else they may have done, they have always been balanced, and willing to look at things objectively in the world, to face the truth and to introspect and question onself's role in world affairs.
posted by infini at 7:32 AM on May 24, 2007


infini, I agree. The British have surely inflicted much suckiness upon the planet but because of their inherited philosophies have handled the whole affair in a much more commendable way than many other cultures drunk on power have.
posted by Firas at 10:44 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


and I'm glad our mutual histories - the British Isles and the Subcontinents - intertwined deeply over 500 years. I can't help but note so much of the influence even in northern Yorkshire villages, blithely assumed to be pukka British, heh. ;p
posted by infini at 11:21 AM on May 24, 2007


Outside Panel to Scrutinize U.S. Arabic TV Network
posted by amberglow at 6:01 PM on June 7, 2007


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