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Soledad O’Brien On Taking Money From Qatar’s Al Jazeera

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Soledad O’Brien was my guest today to promote her special tomorrow on one PTSD program, “The War Comes Home,” which airs on CNN Tuesday night at 9 PM.

I took the opportunity to ask her about this Business Week article on Qatar, which owns and funds the other network O’Brien works for, Al Jazeera, and which also funds Islamist terror.

The audio:


The transcript:

HH: Are you still a special correspondent for Al Jazeera?

SO’B: I am. I run a production company, so I work with National Geographic, with Al Jazeera America, with CNN, with HBO, and a number of other companies.

HH: So here’s my question.

SO’B: Sure.

HH: Businessweek Today has a story on Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera, and the headline calls Qatar “a patron of Islamists.” It says that Qatar funds and arms Islamists fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad and bankrolling Hamas in the Gaza Strip. So here’s an honest question. How can you take money from them?

SO’B: You know, I think that there is a couple of different issues there, and I think you could look at similar issues of what is funded in the United States. To me, at the end of the day, we take a look at the journalism that is done. To me, I look at what the opportunities are and what is happening at Al Jazeera America, and the kinds of stories that they want to tell, and I don’t think anybody has said anything about their journalism at all. In fact, they’ve gotten incredibly high marks for their reporting.

HH: Well, I’m not raising that.

SO’B: And thank God, I was not involved in that.

HH: It’s just that Qatar owns it and on CNN tonight, they’re running this helicopter footage which is so, you know, the people that Qatar funds are engaged in genocide against these Kurd[s], against the Yazidis. And I know that the journalism can be good, but if the funding for the journalism comes from a regime that is funding ISIS, does it creep you out?

SO’B: Well you know, I think again, at the end of the day, the thing that I think about is the journalism. And I think those are very complicated issues. They’re not as straightforward as that.

HH: Is there anything that would cause you to say if Qatar was shown to be funding ISIS, would you quit Al Jazeera?

SO’B: No, very rarely do I operate in hypotheticals. I certainly would take it under considerations, absolutely, as I take anything under consideration.

HH: Have you spent time examining where Qatar’s money or where Al Jazeera’s money is coming from? I mean, have you spent time actually digging into it as a reporter?

SO’B: Absolutely when I decided. In fact, I do that for every single organization that I work for. I’m very interested in understanding one, funding, but also, what their journalism is, what their perspective is, absolutely.

HH: So is Qatar funding Islamists?

SO’B: Listen, as far as I can tell, it’s unclear to me. I think that that report is out, and that’s an interesting report, and I would have to continue to monitor it.

HH: And if it does turn out that they are, would you leave Al Jazeera?

SO’B: Again, since I don’t deal in hypotheticals, it’s absolutely something that I’d consider, but I would tell you I don’t deal in hypothetical situations.

HH: Soledad O’Brien, we’ll be watching tomorrow night, The War Comes Home, not a hypothetical situation. It’s on tomorrow night at 9pm on CNN. Thanks for joining us.

End of interview


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