The Washington Times published a “special section” of articles on June 4 that praised Qatar, its institutions, and its influence in the world. Each of these articles has been marked as “sponsored,” even though the Times fails to mention by whom. This is a shocking insertion at first glance, especially for a conservative publication whose editorial board previously criticized Qatar.
While Qatari money is literally everywhere, its impact was mostly perceived on the American left in past years. For instance, Qatar’s media empire Al Jazeera runs an AJ+ social media platform that has partnered with hard-left American channels like the Young Turks.
Meanwhile, Doha has invested tens of millions into prominent think tanks like the Brookings Institution. In 2013, Brookings received $15 million, and in just the previous year at least $2 million— maybe even more. Such generosity has provided a cozy facility for Brookings in Doha. Meanwhile, the Qatari government enjoys a steady flow of scholarly articles downplaying the patronage of brutal, radical Islamism and depicting its connections to specified terror organizations as nothing more than serious efforts at dialogue, carried out in an effort to gain impact for the sake of goodwill.
The most prominent (and intriguing) example in recent years that has earned some government attention has been the money and travel invitations offered since 2017 to leading American Jewish organisations. After originally accepting Qatar’s invites and financing, the Zionist Organization of America was commonly denounced in Jewish press. Doha believed it could finance Hamas and win American Jewish assistance at the same time, but it seems incorrectly.
The June 4 splash of pro-Qatari messaging was significant but not new in the strongly conservative Washington Times. Of the 25 papers released, five have been written by Times columnist Tim Constantine, who is a regular at Republican meetings and has good impact as a talk radio host of “The Capitol Hill Show.” Over the previous years, Constantine has used both his Times columns and his radio show to make Qatar look like saints, offer lectures to representatives of the government, and denounce the iniquities of Qatar’s biggest enemy, Saudi Arabia.
Constantine defines himself on his website as “a breath of fresh air in today’s world of mindless talk points.” Yet his 2018 post reads almost exactly how one would imagine a press release from a duplicate, despotic government with a skilled media department sounding.
Qatar depends on conservative Americans ‘ long-standing, sensible faith that Saudi Arabia is the main cause of violence and extremism. Qatar advances the narrative that other nations in its region are under siege because they oppose the progressive, mild views of Doha.
But it appears that the very opposite is true. Qatar, the second most well-known Wahhabi government in the world, has a lengthy record of allowing crime and extremism financing. It shares a lot with Saudi Arabia, but it also has the press skills to convince Americans otherwise. American news outlets are not supposed to be partners in this deception.