- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2013

A welcome relief for fatigued viewers, or stealthy propaganda outlet? Al-Jazeera America arrives on the airwaves at 3 p.m. Tuesday with promises of credible news and weighty content, powered by funds from the Qatar government. It’ll have a dozen national bureaus, 70 international bureaus, big-name talent and 900 new employees pulled from multiple news organizations.

“This is an interesting venture. It’s not easy to start up a cable network from scratch, particularly when there are potential questions from viewers or advertisers who refuse to tune in because they don’t like the name Al-Jazeera, or they think it’s going to be an outlet for Middle Eastern propaganda,” Rick Edmonds — media business analyst for the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism center — tells Inside the Beltway

“On the other hand, it’s like billionaire Jeff Bezos taking over The Washington Post. The government of Qatar is putting up the funds. So that is helpful. From the consumer point of view, Al-Jazeera America has made some explicit promises that they will present serious news and long-form, real journalism that we’re not used to seeing on the other three cable news networks. The audience will have to wait and see about that,” Mr. Edmonds continues.

“They’ve made a lot of hires from a lot of different networks, which is a positive factor to me. The critical question is whether they can break news stories that are distinctive to them, to their own brand. That will get people to take a long look.”

THE IRS HAS A SCANDAL?

Numbers speak the loudest when it comes to media bias. How long has it been since ABC, NBC and CBS even mentioned the Internal Revenue Service scandal? Keep in mind that Tax Analysts, a nonprofit news group, has filed both a Freedom of Information Act request and a federal lawsuit in the past week, seeking to have a look at the federal agency’s employee training materials that ultimately led to the targeted scrutiny of conservative and tea party groups.

And the broadcast coverage? Here’s how many days have elapsed since the “big three” last paid attention the IRS matter, according to Geoffrey Dickens, an analyst with the watchdog site NewsBusters.

ABC: June 26 (54 days); NBC: June 27 (53 days); CBS: July 24 (25 days).

“ABC, CBS and NBC have colluded with the Obama administration to censor the latest IRS scandal news,” Mr. Dickens concludes.

OBAMACARE HAS A DEADLINE?

Oh, the scourge of those pesky memos.

“In recent months, President Obama and his subordinates have waived or delayed a number of Obamacare’s notable features, such as the law’s employer mandate, and its procedures for protecting taxpayers from fraud and identity theft,” says Forbes.com contributor Avik Roy, who managed to get ahold of an unpublished memo from the Congressional Research Service that explains all.

“The nonpartisan in-house think tank compiled 82 deadlines that the Affordable Care Act mandates upon the first three years of its own implementation,” Mr. Roy notes. “Remarkably, it turns out that the White House has missed half of the deadlines legally required by the ACA. And some of those deadlines remain unmet to this day.”

He did all the math to discover that the Obama administration ultimately missed 56 percent of those deadlines.

CITIZEN CRUZ

The press has pestered Sen. Ted Cruz about his citizenship for months, a sure sign journalists expect the Texas Republican to declare his candidacy for the White House sometime soon. Mr. Cruz has been in transparency mode, noting that, yes, he was born in Canada 42 years ago. “My mother was born in Wilmington, Del. She’s a U.S. citizen, so I’m a U.S. citizen. I’m not going to engage in a legal debate. The facts are clear.”

He told this to ABC News a month ago.

Mr. Cruz essentially repeated the same thing — several times — upon releasing a copy of his birth certificate to The Dallas Morning News before embarking in a town hall tour across the Lone Star State this week. The paper promptly suggested that Mr. Cruz should “renounce” his Canadian citizenship. “To our knowledge, he never had Canadian citizenship, so there is nothing to renounce,” countered Catherine Frazier, the lawmaker’s spokeswoman.

Yeah, well. We’ve been this route before. A similar question emerged in 2008 with then-presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, who was born in Panama, prompting congressional analysts to prepare a 53-page paper parsing out the complexities.

“The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term ‘natural born’ citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship ‘by birth’ or ‘at birth,’ either by being born ‘in’ the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship ‘at birth.’ Such term, however, would not include a person who was not a U.S. citizen by birth or at birth, and who was thus born an ‘alien’ required to go through the legal process of ‘naturalization’ to become a U.S. citizen,” wrote legislative analyst Jack Maskell incomprehensibly.

“There is no requirement of two ‘citizen-parents,’” the 2009 report noted.

DOING TIME

“Prisoners of Vacation”

— Title of a 2-minute video by Agence France-Presse photographer Jim Watson, recapping the experiences of journalists covering President Obama’s nine-day summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.

‘INCOMPREHENSIBLY COMPLEX’

“Much like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank is an incomprehensibly complex piece of legislation that is harmful to our floundering economy and in dire need of repeal. Its regulations generally fall into two categories: those that create economic uncertainty and those that create certain economic harm,” says House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling after President Obama’s meeting with financial regulators to discuss the implementation of the aforementioned legislation.

“The great tragedy and irony of the financial crisis was not that Washington regulators failed to prevent it, but instead that Washington regulations helped lead us into it. With Dodd-Frank, our economy now has 200 more Washington regulations to contend with,” the Texas Republican says with a sigh.

POLL DU JOUR

51 percent of Americans say the U.S. should cut off military aid to Egypt; 56 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of Democrats agree.

50 percent overall say President Obama has not been “tough enough” on violence against anti-government protesters in Egypt; 63 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Democrats agree.

45 percent say the Egyptian military would provide better leadership in Egypt; 52 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats agree.

25 percent overall don’t know who provides the best leadership in Egypt.

19 percent overall say neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor the military can provide leadership.

11 percent favor the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted April 15-18.

Complexities, singular notions to jharper@washingtontimes.com.