Materials taken from Osama bin Laden's compound following his death in May 2011, which revealed that al Qaeda has major issues with Fox News, were publicly released by the Pentagon on Thursday.
The translated documents were previously viewed by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. The main thrust of Ignatius' piece described that bin Laden was plotting to kill President Barack Obama and Gen. David H. Patraeus. His article also included details about al Qaeda's media plans surrounding the 10-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
The full report revealed even more insight into the organization's opinions about U.S. media outlets and reporters, including that al Qaeda had considered giving an exclusive interview with bin Laden to a network. Some journalists, including ABC News' Brian Ross, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, and former CNN Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs Octavia Nasr were personally named in the report.
The report, according to the Pentagon, is a letter written by al Qaeda's U.S.-born media adviser, Adam Gadahn to an unknown recipient in late January 2011. The report is titled, "The Issue of preparing for the Tenth Anniversary, and how it will be marketed in the Media, and How to Exploit the Media in General."
Gadahn wrote that in his personal opinion, "there are no distinct differences between the channels from the standpoint of professionalism and neutrality." He concluded that "there is no single channel that [al Qaeda] could rely on for [their] messages."
Gadahn wrote that bin Laden should send his anniversary video to multiple news organizations, but had very strong feelings against Fox News. "As for Fox News let her die in her anger,” he said. He also described the networks as "all on one level — except [Fox News] channel, which falls into the abyss as you know, and lacks objectivity, too."
In addition to describing Fox News as lacking objectivity, he wrote that he "used to think that MSNBC channel may be good and neutral a bit, but it has lately fired two of the most famous journalists – Keith Olberman and Octavia Nasser the Lebanese – because they released some statements that were open for argument."
Gadahn's analysis here is incorrect. Nasr was not employed by MSNBC. She was in fact fired from CNN after she tweeted, "sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot." Olbermann and MSNBC parted ways amidst very public reports of the host's clashes with network management.
Regarding CNN, Gadahn wrote that the network "seems to be in cooperation with the government more than the others (except Fox News of course)." He added that CNN's "Arabic version brings good and detailed reports about al-Sahab releases, with a lot of quotations from the original text. That means they copy directly from the releases or its gist. It is not like what other channels and sites do, copying from news agencies like Reuters, AP and others."
Gadahn also wrote about broadcast news networks including CBS and ABC. He wrote that ABC News "could be one of the best channels" as far as the terrorist organization was concerned. He added that the network was "interested in al- Qa'ida issues, particularly the journalist Brian Ross, who is specialized in terrorism. The channel is still proud for its interview with the Shaykh. It also broadcasted excerpts from a speech of mine on the fourth anniversary, it also published most of that text on its site on the internet."
As for CBS, he wrote, "I see that it is like the other channels, but it has a famous program (60 Minutes) that has some popularity and a good reputation for its long broadcasting time."
To read the full report, including the section on the media, click here.
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