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[casi] U.S. Hires Christian Extremists to Produce Arabic News



http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=15801

The U.S. government this week launched its Arabic language satellite TV news
station for mostly Muslim Iraq. It is being produced in a studio  Grace
Digital Media  controlled by fundamentalist Christians who are rabidly
pro-Israel. That's grace as in "by the grace of God."

Grace Digital Media is controlled by a fundamentalist Christian millionaire,
Cheryl Reagan, who last year wrested control of Federal News Service, a
transcription news service, from its former owner, Cortes Randell. Randell
says he met Reagan at a prayer meeting, brought her in as an investor in
Federal News Service, and then she forced him out of his own company.

Grace Digital Media and Federal News Service are housed in a downtown
Washington, D.C. office building, along with Grace News Network. When you
call the number for Grace News Network, you get a person answering "Grace
Digital Media/Federal News Service." According to its web site, Grace News
Network is "dedicated to transmitting the evidence of God's presence in the
world today."

"Grace News Network will be reporting the current secular news, along with
aggressive proclamations that will 'change the news' to reflect the Kingdom
of God and its purposes," GNN proclaims.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. government agency
producing the television news broadcasts for Iraq, likes to say it is the
BBC of the USA. BBG runs Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, and Radio
Sawa  Arabic language radio for the Middle East.

"Our mission is clear," BBG's Joan Mower told us. "To broadcast accurate and
objective news about the United States and the world. We don't do
propaganda, leafleting  we are like the BBC in that respect."

Well, then why hook up with Grace?

BBG's Joan Mower said that Grace Digital Media is a mainstream production
house used by all kinds of mainstream news organizations.

"Grace will have nothing to do with the editorial side of the news
broadcast," she said. "They are renting us equipment, space, studio. The
Grace personnel we use include technicians, production people but no
editorial people."

But Mower said she couldn't get us a copy of the contract between BBG and
Grace Digital Media. Nor could she say how Grace Digital was chosen as the
production studio.

Grace News Network proclaims that it will be a "unique tool in the Lord's
ministry plan for the world," according to the company's mission statement.
"Grace News Network provides networking links and portals to various
ministries and news services that will be of benefit to every Christian
believer and seeker of truth."

The CEO of Grace News Network is Thorne Auchter. The same Thorne Auchter who
began the dismantling of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) under Presidents Reagan and George Bush I. Auchter did not return our
calls seeking comment for this story.

While it's unclear whether Grace News Network actually produces any news, it
has produced a documentary movie titled "Israel: Divine Destiny" which it
showed at the National Press Club in September 2002. The film is about
"Israel's destiny and the United States' role in that destiny," according to
Grace News Network.

Grace News said that it could not make a copy of the film available to us at
this time, since it is now undergoing post-production editing. Nor could it
provide a transcript.

The mainstream media has documented strong and growing ties between
right-wing Republican Christian fundamentalists and right-wing Sharonist
Israeli expansionists. This alliance is personified in Ralph Reed's Stand Up
for Israel, a group formed to "mobilize Christians and other people of faith
to support the State of Israel."

President Bush has very strong ties to fundamentalist Christians, most
notably Franklin Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham. Last week, Franklin
Graham delivered a Good Friday message at the Pentagon, despite an uproar
over his previous slander of Islam as "a very evil and wicked religion."

Don Wagner, a professor of religion and director of the Center for Middle
Eastern Studies at North Park University, an evangelical Christian college
in Chicago, has written extensively about what he calls Christian Zionism,
whose leaders he identifies as, among others, Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Pat
Robertson, Gary Bauer, and Franklin Graham.

"Christian Zionists have historically pointed to Genesis 12:3-96  I will
bless those who bless you. And the one who curses you, I will curse," Dr.
Wagner said. "They have interpreted this to mean that individuals and
nations who support the state of Israel will be blessed by God. It has come
to mean political, economic and moral support, often uncritically rendered
to the state of Israel."

Grace News Network seems to fit the mold.

Joan Mower says that BBG is currently producing and transmitting six hours
of news into Iraq including a dubbed version of the daily evening news from
ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS, plus three hours of original news programming
from BBG.

BBG says it sees no problem in having Grace produce the evening news
broadcast for Iraq. Given the brewing anti-American revolt through all
sectors of Iraqi society, maybe it should reconsider.

We called Grace Digital Media to speak with Cheryl Reagan. Her secretary
told us that she has been away in extended vacation for more than a month 
in Israel.

When will she back? we asked. No one knows, the secretary said.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of "Corporate Predators: The Hunt
for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy" (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage
Press).

Cheers, pg




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