By Diana West
A couple of week's ago, I blogged about Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's charm-blitz through NY, juxtaposing Fox News' Neil Cavuto's sweetheart interview with "the prince" and Charlie Rose's far more revealing conversation -- essentially, it's (everything's) all Israel's fault, and "my" 1.5 billion Muslims are all like the underpants' bomber's father.
I kept thinking about Alwaleed -- his stake in News Corp., his stakes in Georgetown and Harvard -- and realized that as a leading scion of the so-called House of Saud (q: how many countries are named for their rulers?), a totalitarian theocracy whose foundational documents -- the Koran, the Sunnah, the Hadiths -- place it in direct ideological conflict with the US Constitution, he operates not just as a billionaire businessman, but also, inevitably, by virtue of who he is, as an agent of Saudi influence.
News Corp. wants to do business with him? Fine. But shouldn't News Corp.'s Fox News thus be required to register with the State Department as a foreign agent of Saudi Arabia? That's the question posed by this week's syndicated column:
Should Fox News register with the State Department as a foreign agent -- an agent of Saudi Arabia?
First off, is that a farfetched question? Not when a leading member of the ruling family of the sharia-totalitarian "kingdom" of Saudi Arabia, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has made himself the second-largest shareholder of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Fox News' parent company.
Just as Steven Emerson believes that American universities using Saudi mega-millions (many from Alwaleed) to set up Islamic studies departments should register as Saudi agents, I believe an American news channel part-owned and part-influenced by the Saudi prince should, too.
Alwaleed's long march through U.S. institutions is a mainly post-9/11 progression greased by his purchase of about a 5.5 percent stake in News Corp. in 2005, and his purchases, I mean, gifts, of $20 million apiece to Georgetown and Harvard Universities, also in 2005.
There have been other eye-catching displays of Alwaleed's largesse -- $500,000 in 2002 to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Hamas- and Muslim-Brotherhood-linked entity, and a whopping $27 million, also in 2002, to the families of Palestinian "martyrs," aka suicide bombers. These, along with Alwaleed's self-described "very close relationship" with Murdoch son and apparent heir-apparent James, a left-wing global-warmist with virulently anti-Israel views, should only deepen Americans' concerns about Fox's ties to "the prince." Recently, Murdoch and Alwaleed have discussed expanding their business relationship through the Murdoch purchase of a substantial stake in Rotana, Alwaleed's huge Arab media company.
Before entering his Murdoch association, Alwaleed gave a remarkably candid interview in 2002 about what Arab News described as his belief that "Arabs should focus more on penetrating U.S. public opinion as a means to influencing decision-making" rather than boycotting U.S. products, an idea of the moment.
The Arab News reported: "Arab countries can influence U.S. decision-making 'if they unite through economic interests, not political,' (Alwaleed) stressed. 'We have to be logical and understand that the U.S. administration is subject to U.S. public opinion. We (Arabs) are not so active in this sphere (public opinion). And to bring the decision-maker on your side, you not only have to be active inside the U.S. Congress or the administration but also inside U.S. society.'"
And active inside U.S. society living rooms -- even better. Alwaleed would seem to have hit on a Fox strategy some time after Rudy Giuliani refused to accept, on behalf of a 9/11-shattered New York City, his $10 million check-cum-lecture that essentially justified the al-Qaida attacks as having been a response to U.S. foreign policy.
This was "such an egregious, outrageous, unfair offense that I would have nothing to do with his money either," Sean Hannity said at the time on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes," his remarks (and those of other Fox personalities) recently re-examined by the left-wing group Media Matters. "This is a bad guy," Hannity said. "Rudy was right to decline the money." Bill Sammon called Alwaleed's check "blood money," adding, "we're better off without it."
How terribly ironic that this same "bad guy" is now a News Corp. blood-money bags, a boss who must be handled with care as, for example, Fox host Neil Cavuto did in a deferential interview with Alwaleed last month.
How does this influence Fox News coverage? It's impossible to say. Alwaleed has bragged that it only took a phone call to ensure that Fox coverage of Muslim rioting in France not be described as "Muslim" rioting in France, a boast News Corp. has never denied. This week, security analyst Joseph Trento, in light of recent negotiations between Alwaleed and Murdoch, mused online whether his own recent interview on "Fox & Friends" didn't appear in Fox's online video cache because he had told host Steve Ducey that "Saudi Arabian money was still financing al-Qaida." The doubt itself is damaging.
Meanwhile, spokesmen for terrorism-linked and Alwaleed-endowed CAIR still appear on Fox shows, for example, while Dave Gaubatz and Paul Sperry, likely Fox guests as conservative authors of the sleeper-hit book "Muslim Mafia" (an expose of CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood), get zero airtime. The more important question becomes: How does Alwaleed's stake in News Corp. affect what Fox News doesn't cover?
If they don't report, we can't decide. This, for a sharia prince, could be worth millions.