The barely watched news channel Al Jazeera recently hosted Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) VP Paul Shapiro to discuss chicken farming. The online segment appeared on Al Jazeera’s “The Stream,” hosted by Lisa Fletcher. At issue was the USDA’s attempt to reform chicken inspections and improve food safety in the first overhaul of such inspections since 1957. The USDA has a handy Q&A sheet on why this is a good idea, but like most complicated issues involving agriculture, it’s easy for an activist group like HSUS to spout spin and demagoguery. A good journalist, however, would be able to separate the facts from the clucking.
So did the views of experts carry the day on the Al Jazeera segment? Let’s just say the deck was stacked.
There’s Shapiro, a longtime animal liberation radical who is obsessed with veganism and putting the chicken industry out of business (as are other leaders of HSUS). Then there was another guest, a former inspector, who was opposed to USDA’s move. An Al Jazeera co-host made comments about going vegetarian. There was one guest, a former USDA veterinarian, who was in favor of the proposed change. So it was 3-to-1 against chicken, with Shapiro given ample time to spew his rehearsed rhetoric.
Did that fact get mentioned in the broadcast? Nope, even though it’s a conflict of interest given that the main guest (Paul Shapiro) works for Fletcher’s husband. Newsbusters has a good analysis of this junk journalism, and notes Fletcher’s admission that she plays a role in determining how the issues are presented: “The production team and I determine what our topics are going to be, how we’re going to present the show, who we’re going to have as guests.”
With Pacelle’s vegan-maniac wife at the helm of “The Stream,” HSUS apparently has a media ally in spewing whatever out-of-context attacks on farming its flacks have to offer. And that content is apparently brought to us by a sponsor of Islamic terrorism.
Al Jazeera is funded by the government of Qatar. And according to The Wall Street Journal, Qatar also funds and arms the terror groups Hamas (which was indiscriminately launching rockets at Israeli cities recently) and the Islamic State/ISIS (which is slaughtering and beheading innocent men, woman, and children left and right in Iraq and Syria). Notes Forbes, “one of the network’s most-watched shows in the Middle East, according to the Washington Times, is hosted by a spiritual adviser to the Muslim Brotherhood who has issued fatwas approving the killings of Americans in Iraq and Jews in Israel.”
Maybe Al Jazeera should change its name to “Al Qaeda TV.” We’ve noted that HSUS leaders have in the past voiced support for animal-rights terrorism. Now the HSUS CEO’s wife is apparently on the payroll of a network owned by terrorism financers.
Shouldn’t we expect the hosts at Al Jazeera to disassociate themselves from this network, if they have any dignity? That would assume, of course, they are actually interested in legitimate journalism. Fletcher and HSUS seem as interested in an unbiased story as Vladimir Putin.