Ossoff Received Thousands From Al Jazeera Media in Past Two Years

Jon Ossoff (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
July 30, 2020

Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff received at least $5,000 from the Qatari-backed Al Jazeera network over the past two years, according to an updated personal financial disclosure.

The money was for his work as CEO of Insight TWI, a London-based producer of investigative journalism documentaries. Ossoff did not include the payment on his initial 2020 disclosure on May 15, and his campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Al Jazeera has courted controversy since its inception in the 1990s. It was criticized as a "mouthpiece for terrorists" when it aired flattering footage of Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and it has glorified Palestinian terrorism. Lawmakers have called it an unregistered lobbyist for the Qatari government that should be registered as a foreign agent, similar to foreign news outlets controlled by Russia and China.

While it insists it has editorial independence from Qatar and has moderated since the early 2000s, Al Jazeera has continued to face criticism for pushing pro-Islamist, anti-American, and anti-Semitic narratives in its news coverage. In 2018, the Washington Free Beacon reported Al Jazeera had engaged in a months-long spying operation on pro-Israel officials and organizations for an unaired documentary. In 2019, a media watchdog warned that Al Jazeera English "generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability" and "regularly skews its coverage to promote Qatar."

Qatar has also been accused of funding the Islamic State terrorist group and the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.

Ossoff disclosed a payment of at least $5,000 from the controversial network during his failed run for Georgia's Sixth Congressional District in 2017. He defended himself at the time with a statement that he "condemns partisan attacks that appeal to fear and stands by his work as a journalist and businessman."

Ossoff purchased Insight TWI—formerly called Insight News Television—in 2013, using his inheritance from his wealthy grandfather. He lists Insight TWI as worth between $1 million and $5 million, making it the most valuable of his listed assets.

Insight TWI has produced at least 10 films since 2013 for Al Jazeera and its sister company Al Jazeera English, many of them focused on Africa. The most recent film listed on its website is Peacekeepers, a 2018 production for Al Jazeera English about Nigerian atrocities in Sierra Leone.

Ossoff clinched the Georgia Democratic Senate nomination last month and is looking to unseat Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.).