Qatari media accused of ‘demonizing’ Trump

Updated 29 August 2018
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Qatari media accused of ‘demonizing’ Trump

  • Al Jazeera has aired insulting comments about Trump across its various broadcast and online channels
  • Agenda is to 'stir hatred of the US within the Arab world'

DUBAI: Qatari media have been accused of “demonizing” Donald Trump, with the Al Jazeera network alone having broadcast more than 1,800 news items designed to discredit the US president, according to commentators and media monitoring research.

Al Jazeera — into which Qatar has pumped billions of dollars since it first went on air in 1996 — has allegedly aired insulting comments about Trump across its various broadcast and online channels and in multiple languages. 

The comments range from questioning Trump’s legitimacy in office and his mental health to accusing him of racism and praising his rivals. 

Other Qatar-backed channels have also been accused of bias against Trump and criticism of recent US efforts on the peace process, while Al Jazeera has been subject to wider allegations of stirring hatred. One cartoon published by a Qatari media outlet portrays Trump as a worm, while another shows him with his mouth stuffed full of money.

One recent Al Jazeera video broadcast appeared to promote Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney — and self-confessed “pitbull” — turned nemesis. Cohen, once one of Trump’s most loyal aides, pleaded guilty to charges of campaign finance violations, and directly implicated Trump in paying “hush money” to prevent two women speaking out about alleged extramarital affairs.

One Al Jazeera broadcast played on Cohen’s importance in the “world trend list,” in a report that also referenced activists’ demonstrations at a Trump hotel.

While Al Jazeera’s Arabic network has long been accused of stirring anti-American sentiment, its other networks have generally had a reputation for being more balanced.

Yet media-monitoring research into these platforms’ archives reveals numerous anti-Trump attacks by outlets such as Al Jazeera English and online video service AJ+. The latter, for example, last year featured a video highlighting what it suggested might be “the nine most racist moments of the Trump presidency.”

One Al Jazeera English broadcast from December 2017 questioned the president’s mental health after he slurred the pronunciation of a word in a speech.

“Many are questioning Trump’s ability to make sound decisions,” the Al Jazeera presenter said. The broadcast also drew a parallel between the episode and the case of former President Ronald Reagan, who showed bouts of confusion while in office and was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Salman Al-Ansari, the founder and president of the Saudi American Public Relations Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), said that one of Al Jazeera’s aims was to “demonize” the US leadership. 

“One of the cornerstones of the Al Jazeera network’s policy is to spread hatred against America in the Arab world,” he said. “Al Jazeera wants to keep the same policy of demonizing the US over and over, because that goes side-by-side with the agendas of the Qatari government.”

Part of this agenda is to stir hatred of the US within the Arab world, something that is consistent with the tactics used by the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Ansari said.

“It’s actually a dangerous message because the Qataris are actually hosting the Al Udeid Air Base, which is the biggest US air base in the region … they are playing a very dirty game in demonizing the United States and … making the people of the Arab world hate the US.

“This is a very dangerous brainwashing tactic by the Qatari regime that needs to be stopped and needs to be confronted decisively by the international community, specifically by the United States.”

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, said that the “antipathy” of Al Jazeera Arabic toward Trump stems from Qatar’s frustration with the US administration’s strong line against the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. 

“Since Mr. Trump correctly realized that the source of the problem in the region comes from Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar has been upset because it is a benefactor of the Muslim Brotherhood and is also an ally of Iran,” Al-Shehri said.

“I am not surprised by Al Jazeera’s insidious campaign against Mr. Trump. Ever since Mr. Trump pulled the plug on the Iran nuclear deal, the anti-Trump campaign has become shriller on Al Jazeera.”

 


Comic-Con inspires fans from Riyadh to New York

More than 135,000 geeks and nerds will next week celebrate the 50th edition of Comic-Con, the world’s largest celebration of pop culture. (AFP)
Updated 16 July 2019
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Comic-Con inspires fans from Riyadh to New York

  • The recipe has been so successful that imitations and spin-offs have popped up around the world, from New York to Saudi Arabia

LOS ANGELES: From Peter Parker’s run-in with a radioactive spider to Superman fleeing an exploding Krypton, comic book fans love a good origin story.
So when 135,000 geeks and nerds invade San Diego next week for the 50th edition of Comic-Con — the world’s largest celebration of pop culture — the event’s humble beginnings will be a hot topic of discussion.
The sprawling convention today draws Hollywood A-listers such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Patrick Stewart and the cast of “Game of Thrones” to its frantically hyped panels, where billion-dollar franchises are launched.
But the first iteration — the brainchild of an unemployed 36-year-old comic collector and his five teenage acolytes — drew just 100 people to a seedy hotel basement down the road in March 1970.
The “Golden State Comic-Con” was first designed as a way for fans to connect with each other and meet their heroes — the comic book creators — at a time when the genre was a million miles away from the mainstream.
“We never thought we’d be as big as we are. We never thought we’d be around in 50 years’ time,” David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s marketing chief, told AFP.
“They were the first people who really viewed comic books as art,” added Glanzer.
Comic-Con’s subsequent growth was gradual but inexorable. It increasingly looked beyond comics and catered to film and TV, as well as other genres such as sci-fi.
Oscar-winning director Frank Capra was the first genuinely mainstream star to attend. But arguably the tipping point came in 1976 when Lucasfilm’s publicist sent a team bearing posters and slides to promote an upcoming “little film called Star Wars,” said Glanzer.
The ploy to spread word of mouth about its ambitious space opera was “viral marketing before there was viral marketing,” he added.
It evidently worked. Big-shot studio executives who had previously attended for fun on their weekends began coming for the whole week, arriving in their business suits to close major licensing deals at San Diego’s top restaurants.

FASTFACT

Next week’s event is expected to attract 135,000 visitors

By the 1990s, studios and networks were sending the “talent” itself — star-studded casts and directors — forcing the traditional media to pay attention.
Francis Ford Coppola came to promote “Dracula,” while Quentin Tarantino went from wandering the halls as a fan to appearing front and center on stage.
“Back in the day we used to give away two or three thousand tickets on the radio because we couldn’t get people through the door,” recalled Glanzer. “Now tickets sell out within an hour.”
The recipe has been so successful that imitations and spin-offs have popped up around the world, from New York to Saudi Arabia.
This year San Diego will host a series of retrospective panels celebrating Comic-Con’s storied past.
But for some, the exponential growth has come at a cost.
What was once an intimate event now sees thousands of bleary-eyed fans — dressed in pitch-perfect monster, alien and manga costumes — lining up long before dawn to squeeze into packed events.
Comic retailers who maintained stalls at the event for decades have stopped coming, priced out by rising costs as Comic-Con has filled and spilled out from the 27-acre (11-hectare) San Diego Convention Center.
And many bemoan the fact that, in a world of Hollywood blockbusters and video games, the comic books themselves have been relegated to the back pages.
“Yeah, we do get a lot of Hollywood people, but entertainment now is very different to how it was in 1970,” said Glanzer. “I think that’s just a healthy progression and acknowledgement of art in its various different forms.
“As long as we maintain our roots in comics and other art forms, I hope we’ll be OK.”