Pressure Ramps Up in Congress To Revoke Al Jazeera's Press Credentials

Qatari outlet 'openly endorsing Hamas's barbaric ideology'

(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
November 2, 2023

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) is facing calls to revoke Al Jazeera's congressional press credentials, as the Qatari state-controlled news outlet is accused of inflaming tensions in the Middle East with its anti-Israel coverage.

Al Jazeera is "openly endorsing Hamas's barbaric ideology"—and there is "no better time to revoke the press credentials," Rep. Jack Bergman (R., Mich.) wrote in a letter.

"Hamas is using Al Jazeera daily to promote blood libels against Israel—and even calling for 'Jihad' against the United States and the West," wrote Bergman.

Bergman's letter comes as Al Jazeera's pro-Hamas coverage has sparked international concern and as the Qatari government shelters senior Hamas leaders in Doha. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly asked Qatar's prime minister to tone down Al Jazeera's anti-Israel rhetoric due to concerns that it could incite more violence in the region.

Johnson did not respond to a request for comment. Al Jazeera did not respond to a request for comment.

Bergman noted that over 100 journalists at the Qatari news outlet hold congressional press credentials, which gives them access to restricted areas of the Capitol, such as the House and Senate press galleries. He said Al Jazeera is out of compliance with the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), which requires organizations to disclose their funding and lobbying activities if they are acting as paid advocates of a foreign country or company.

Al Jazeera has declined to register under FARA, despite a 2020 Department of Justice order that it do so.

Bergman said there are "national security concerns inherent in providing an 'all-access pass' for the U.S. Capitol to supposed reporters from outlets owned by despotic regimes—especially when those foreign powers have a documented history of wielding their espionage forces to target critics inside the U.S., as has been done repeatedly by China, Russia, and Qatar."

The letter follows a similar request in February to then-speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) from a group of Republican lawmakers. Bergman also introduced a bill last year that would pull Al Jazeera's credentials unless the news outlet complies with FARA.

Hamas has used Al Jazeera as a mouthpiece for years and increased that use in the wake of the terrorist group's attacks in Israel last month. The network has broadcasted interviews and statements from Hamas leaders, including their threats to execute hostages, and Al Jazeera hosts have defended the terrorist group.