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BBG Responds to ProPublica's Alhurra Investigation -- And We Have Some Questions for Them

July 22: This post has been corrected.

Broadcasting Board of Governors member Joaquin Blaya has responded to ProPublica's Alhurra investigation.

We're pleased that Joaquin Blaya, the member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors who principally oversees Alhurra, has now joined the discussion about the network.

Since Mr. Blaya is now willing to answer questions, here are some for which we are still seeking answers:

  • How can you reconcile your congressional testimony of May 16, 2007 on the report from the Holocaust deniers conference, quoted here:
    Congressman Pence: "Am I clear to understand that the people directly involved as producers and reporters in these two incidents, and I refer specifically to the Holocaust conference reporting and then the decision to broadcast the unedited speech by the Hezbollah leader; those individuals are no longer in the employ of the network?"

    Mr. Blaya: "That is correct."
    and here:
    Congressman Ackerman: "How did it work?"

    Mr. Blaya: "Reporter, producer, and on the air."

    Congressman Ackerman: "Who are these—I do not mean the specific——"

    Mr. Blaya: "First of all, they are no longer there, the people that made these egregious mistakes are no longer there."
    with the fact that the reporter in question remained an employee of Radio Sawa, Alhurra’s sister radio station, which you also oversee? Did you know, at the time of your testimony, that the reporter remained at Sawa?
  • Your letter makes reference to Alhurra transcripts in English. We understand you do not speak Arabic. How do you personally keep track of Alhurra’s content? Do you read these or other transcripts? How many and how often?
  • How frequently do you visit Alhurra’s studios in Virginia? When were you there most recently before our story was broadcast?
  • What is your reaction to the March 24, 2008 Sawa broadcast of an anonymous militant’s call for the death of more U.S. troops?
  • Your letter compares Alhurra’s viewership with non-Arab broadcasters and you say that Alhurra was not created, in the words of our story, to “counter a wave of global criticism that had been building against the Bush Administration.” Your colleague, Governor Jeffrey Hirschberg, testified that “Alhurra was created as an alternative to existing Arab-speaking media, which had in common a number of things, including hate-speak, disinformation, incitement to violence, government censorship and journalistic self-censorship.” Do you share his view?

Read Joaquin Blaya's full response and his testimony before Congress.

Correction, June 30, 2008: This post originally stated that Alhurra had not received a "clean" financial audit. It has received such audits.

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