Fox News “falls into the abyss as you know, and lacks neutrality too.”
CNN “seems to be in cooperation with the government more than others.”
And “ABC channel is all right; actually it could be one of the best channels, as far as we are concerned.”
That was how an Al Qaeda operative rated several American TV news outlets as the terrorist group weighed how to get its message out for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, according to documents made public today.
In one of 17 notes and letters released by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Osama Bin Laden appeared to ask for suggestions on how to get the group's message out to Muslims and the whole world, “especially to the European people,” as the anniversary approached. Navy SEALS seized his correspondence during the raid in which Bin Laden was killed a year ago.
Bin Laden mused that Al Qaeda should offer to answer questions for Al Jazeera -- “you can point out to them that this way they will be showing the other opinion” -- and should also seek “an American channel that can be close to being unbiased, such as CBS.”
One of his associates, believed by the West Point center to be the prominent California-born Al Qaeda member Adam Gadahn, wrote back that any videos or speeches “should be sent for example to ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN and maybe PBS and VOA.”
“As for Fox News, let her die in her anger,” the writer said.
ABC won praise in the Al Qaeda letter for having interviewed Bin Laden many years earlier and for being interested in “Al Qaeda issues.” CBS had a good reputation for “60 Minutes,” the writer noted.
But the abrupt departure of pundit Keith Olbermann from MSNBC concerned the letter writer, who thought it reflected poorly on the network.
“I used to think that MSNBC may be good and neutral a bit, but it has lately fired two of the most famous journalists -- Keith Olbermann and Octavia Nasr the Lebanese -- because they released some statements that were open for argument,” he wrote. (Octavia Nasr was dismissed from CNN, not MSNBC, after tweeting that she was sad to hear of the death of a cleric linked to Hezbollah.)
However, no American network would be totally reliable, the Al Qaeda writer warned. Even if the terrorist network's message was broadcast, "probably it would distort them somehow," by bringing on outside analysts and experts "that would interpret its meaning in the way they want it to be."
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Former MSNBC anchorman Keith Olbermann delivers a special comment during the "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" show, Oct. 27, 2010. Credit: MSNBC