An Al Jazeera investigative reporter who worked on the network’s high-profile probe into Yasser Arafat’s death was fired last Monday after raising concerns about the objectivity of the network’s Arafat coverage. Since 2012, Al Jazeera has aggressively promoted the controversial theory that Arafat was assassinated with polonium in 2004 and did not die of natural causes.
Investigative journalist Ken Silverstein, who joined Al Jazeera two months ago and co-wrote the network’s November scoop about a team of Swiss scientists that found unusual traces of polonium-210 in Arafat’s bone samples, was fired after he refused to travel to Paris to cover the pending release of French laboratory study on Arafat’s bone samples, multiple sources familiar with the situation told the Washington Free Beacon.
The French findings, released the following day, ended up contradicting the assassination theory.
Déjà vu for yours truly. Flashback to 1975, and I am working as a sub editor on the Reuters world desk. A story comes through on the teleprinter quoting the Palestinian news agency Wafa as saying mujahedin had blown up a petrol station in Tel Aviv. They proudly give the location. I quickly realise that this is only 50 yards from Reuters’ bureau in Tel Aviv (Beit Maariv, to be precise). It was clear that our correspondents would have had to have been deaf not to have heard the blast. I bring this to the attention of the editor in charge and at first he refuses to spike the story. For the sake of accuracy, I plead with him to check with our bureau. He finally relents, and it soon becomes clear that the Palestinians’ story is a complete fabrication. Reluctantly, he spikes the story, but leaves me in no doubt that he is not happy about it. I am not sacked, but I am told that “you will never work for us in Tel Aviv”.
The moral of this story is that, according to Reuters, one should never allow truth to get in the way of expediency. And, by the way, the editor in charge was Jewish, the same faith, I suspect, as that of the unfortunate Mr Silverstein (what the hell was he doing working for Al Jazeera in the first place?).