Yesterday's Evening Standard saw the BBC's World Affairs Editor, John Simpson, complaining about the pressure Qatar is under to close down Al-Jazeera. He wants to see the West supporting the station.
One of Simpson's lines particularly caught my attention:
"It may have been accused of being slanted in favour of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt and elsewhere but it employs talented ex-colleagues of mine from the BBC, and I've always felt its heart is in the right place".
It is a sign of just how lightweight Simpson is, that whilst showing solidarity to his old BBC muckers, he does not actually get the main problem with Al-Jazeera. That is its ability to take in western liberals by saying one thing in its English language programming, and something entirely different in its Arabic material. Consider these findings from one US think tank:
"Aljazeera Arabic, in contrast, has much less freedom to report on regional developments -- including in Qatar -- than the English site. Very little criticism of Doha can be found in Arabic"
or the wave of resignations among its staff because of this subservience to the Qatari royals. More recently Al-Jazeera's racism re-surfaced, for once in English, when it blamed climate change on the Jews.
Either Simpson does not know these things, in which case he is a fool. Or he does know it, and decided it did not matter.