Prince al-Walid bin Talal
A spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., denied a news report that the congressman’s House Committee on Oversight and Reform would be open to investigating national security issues concerning Saudi Prince al-Walid bin Talal’s partial ownership of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the parent of the Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal among others.
Kurt Bardella, spokesman for the House panel and for Issa – the ranking Republican member – told WND he was with the congressman when Issa was interviewed by ThinkProgress.org at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, in Washington.
“He’s not investigating anything, he’s not calling for an investigation nor considering an investigation at all,” Bardella told WND.
Asked about Saudi and Middle Eastern influence on U.S. politics, Issa told ThinkProgress, “I am most concerned about ownership of companies, including broadcast companies, by countries that may have another agenda.”
ThinkProgress reporter Lee Fang noted Issa scoffed, however, when then asked specifically if he was concerned about Prince al-Walid’s 7-percent stake in Fox News.
Issa said he wasn’t worried, because he knew CEO Rupert Murdoch and was certain the news mogul would not be influenced by any agenda of the prince.
The walking interview was captured on video:
Fang wrote that after being prodded, “Issa said he is open to holding an investigation of the network.”
But Bardella insisted “the reporter mischaracterized what the congressman’s intent was on this issue. This is not something he is considering pursuing in any way shape or form.”
“We’re in the middle of a national investigation into Toyota right now,” the spokesman said. “This is not an issue that we’re considering at all, in any way, unequivocally. No.”
The prince was in the news today when his Rotana Media announced it had agreed to sell a $70 million stake to News Corp., according to the Financial Times.
As WND reported in 2005, the Saudi prince claimed he persuaded Murdoch to change a screen banner that identified violent street protests in France as “Muslim riots.”
“I picked up the phone and called Murdoch (and told him) these are not Muslim riots, these are riots out of poverty,” the prince said. “Within 30 minutes, the title was changed from ‘Muslim riots’ to ‘civil riots.’ ”
Fox News acknowledged to WND it changed the banner after receiving complaints from unnamed Muslims abroad.
When ThinkProgress noted the prince has bragged about dictating the Fox News Channel’s content, Issa replied, “Well, he obviously doesn’t, when you watch Fox.”
“What I would say is, people who give you money sign on to your agenda, not the other way around,” Issa said. “However, real operational control has to be maintained in America by our media. So do I welcome private, overseas investment as minority? Yes. Do I ever want their boards to be directly influenced or controlled? Of course, not.
ThinkProgress then asked Issa if he would call for an investigation if “evidence surfaces of bin Talal dictating their content more.”
“Look, if you’ve got a single investigation, I would suggest you turn it over to our people to look into,” Issa replied. “An interview about a single individual is inappropriate. If you want to have an interview about the broad answer, I’m happy to give it to you. We investigate a lot of things.”
Issa concluded: “If you’ve got a specific bent, please turn it in for our committee on national security to work on, and I’d be happy to work on.”
WND recently reported Fox News has given considerable airtime to leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, despite the Muslim group’s documented ties to terrorist organizations and its designation by the Justice Department as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator.
Al-Walid bankrolls Washington-based CAIR, and sensitive State Department records reveal CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper – despite his repeated public denials – has personally solicited cash from the prince and other members of the ruling Saudi royal family during recent trips to the kingdom.