With online media increasingly becoming the propaganda arm of nation-states, revelations about middle east media giant Al Jazeera which surfaced on Wednesday cast a shadow over the aspiring network.
A fired Al Jazeera America employee is suing the network alleging a hostile work environment that included “discriminatory, anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks” according to court filings. The allegations paint the picture of a supposedly American network that has interests counter to those of the country.
The complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court, alleges Matthew Luke was fired in February 10 days after he objected to the behavior of his supervisor, Osman Mahmud, and outlined his concerns to human resources. Luke worked as Al Jazeera America’s supervisor of media and archive management beginning in May 2013, before the news channel had formally launched.
Luke is seeking $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages for the company’s alleged retaliation against Luke for complaining about Mahmud.
The suit accuses Mahmud, who oversaw Broadcast Operations and Technology at the network, of making anti-Semitic remarks such as “whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell,” and expressing a desire to replace an Israeli cameraman with a Palestinian one, as well as excluding women from emails and meetings,an industry website reported. Mahmud, the suit says, also replaced female employees with male ones and filled positions with men of Middle Eastern descent.
Mahmud began as a news editor at the network and rose to his supervisory position because he was well connected with Al Jazeera America’s backers, the suit claims.
The allegations should lead Americans to question where they get their media from. While Al Jazeera has invested heavily and produces a slick, professional product, the agenda has always been questionable. The network, prior to coming to America, was known to air pro-Al Qaeda and pro-9-11 pieces.
The allegations against Al Jazeera also highlight Russia's push to monopolize online media. The communist state is investing heavily in Kremlin mouthpiece RT, which publishes hundreds of stories that massively distort the news yet come across as legitimate thanks to professional design and effective use of language.
The Pentagon has taken note of the trend and is investing to counter the spread of such false information.