LONDON: Qatar is spending large amounts of money on gaining influence with right-wing US media outlets, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.
Following the publication of a sponsored “special section” of articles in the Washington Times earlier this month, which lavished praise on Qatar, the Examiner found the Times had neglected to report who had sponsored the content.
Qatari money being pumped into gaining influence within US media outlets is not a new phenomenon, but its attempts to sway conservatives is a departure from its usual targeting of left-wing voters, through platforms like its social media channel AJ+, which is linked to far-left US groups like the Young Turks.
Of 25 articles published by the Washington Times, five were penned by columnist and Republican talk radio host Tim Constantine, who has consistently used his position at the Washington Times and on his radio show to praise Qatar and its role in the Middle East, with a May 2018 article calling the country a “model of progress” for the rest of the region.
But the Examiner’s report showed Constantine did not mention he had just visited Qatar, where he was hosted by the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lolwah Al-Khater, who he has invited as a guest onto his radio show.
Just a few days after the articles in the Times were published on June 4, the paper featured an article by Jassim bin Mansour Al-Thani, Qatar’s media attache, who used a column to criticize Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Elsewhere, the report highlighted that the Brookings Institution think tank received up to $15 million from Qatar in 2013, and at least $2 million in the past 12 months. In return, the institution releases academic studies highlighting Doha’s attempts to “start a dialogue” with terror-linked groups and downplaying its close financial ties to such organizations.
Further attempts to win over right-wing elements in the US has seen Qatar offer “cash and travel invitations” since 2017 to leading US Jewish organizations like the Zionist Organization of America, which was heavily criticized for accepting funding from Qatar.