June 3, 2010
Stephen C. Webster
Rupert Murdoch may be getting an unpleasant phone call soon, if it hasn’t come already.
That’s because Glenn Beck, the Fox News network’s popular opinion host, just blamed the world’s 19th richest man — Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud — for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
As it happens, the Prince is a major investor in News Corporation; at seven percent of the company’s shares, he’s second only to Rupert Murdoch himself. Fox News is just one piece of the massive corporation. Murdoch, likewise, owns nine percent of the Prince’s Arab media empire Rotana.
Most people would call the situation awkward, to say the least.
Claiming that the U.S. would have acted similarly to Israel in raiding the Gaza aid flotilla, Beck on Thursday afternoon drew an usual analogy between the disastrous military operation that left nine activists dead and the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Didn’t we almost kind of do that?” he asked. “Right after 9/11, when Rudy Giuliani – do you remember? Saudi Arabia came and said, ‘We wanna help!'”
Beck motioned toward a large graphic on a screen behind him.
“This guy came over and said, ‘I wanna give you a $10 million check.’ Rudy Giuliani said, ‘Ya see that over there? I don’t think we want your help. You already sent us help, and you flew that help into the plane – into the trade centers.’
“The same Prince later blamed the U.S. policy for the attacks,” Beck dramatically concluded.
However, the man he’s accusing — the man in the photo he gestured to — has “14 Honorary Doctorates from universities in the U.S., Britain, Korea, Egypt, Malaysia, Ghana, Palestine, Philippines, Tunisia and Uganda, to name only a few,” according to a profile hosted by his firm, the Kingdom Holding Company. He is, according to Forbes, self-made: the 19th richest man in the world, who owns 3.5 percent of Citigroup, among other articles of note in his vast financial holdings.
“As [Citigroup’s] largest individual investor, he has been vocal in his support of its chief executive Vikram Pandit,” the financial publication added. “Kingdom Holding also has large holdings in the Four Seasons and Fairmont hotel management chains. In late February, News Corp. purchased a 9% stake in Alwaleed’s Arab media and entertainment company Rotana, valuing the company at $770 million. His palaces and real estate are worth more than $3 billion. Owns jewelry collection he values at $730 million, plus 4 airplanes, including an Airbus A380.”
Harvard University has even dedicated a program of Islamic studies in his name. Likewise, Georgetown’s school of public service has dedicated its Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding to the Prince.
This same individual offered then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani a $10 million check after Sept. 11, 2001, but stated in public that the U.S. “must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack,” according to CNN.
“The prince’s statement said the United States ‘should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause,'” the network added.
Giuliani was offended by the Prince’s statement and suggested it was an argument of moral equivalence between the attacks and U.S. foreign policy. He outright rejected the funds.
All of these details, mere fact and vital context were completely neglected by Beck, who topped his tirade with a wild mis-truth: that Giuliani had somehow blamed the Prince for 9/11. Giuliani did no such thing; he instead used the shot at image posturing to attack Democrats for noting that U.S. foreign policy has led to far more deaths in the Middle East than the number suffered in New York City on 9/11. He called their statements “part of the problem.”
Think Progress, which called out the accusation in a Thursday blog, added: “Prince Alwaleed has grown close with the Murdoch enterprise, recently endorsing James Murdoch to succeed his father and creating a content-sharing agreement with Fox News for his own media conglomerate, Rotana. As ThinkProgress has reported, many conservative activists have been enraged at Fox News for allowing Prince Alwaleed to dictate its content. For instance, Prince Alwaleed had boasted in the past about forcing Fox News to change its content relating to its coverage of riots in Paris. Curiously, Fox News has also rejected television ads criticizing America’s dependence on Middle East oil, a source of wealth for the Prince Alwaleed family.”
In a recent interview with Business Week, the Prince said that the News Corporation-produced film Avatar was the first science fiction movie he’d ever seen, noting his joy at how much it helped the company’s bottom line, but quipping: “Whether I like it or not I will keep between me and Mr. Murdoch.”
He also told the publication that while he does not support new taxes on banks, “taxes have to be raised across the board” due to America’s massive public debt. The Prince also warned his interviewer, “Clearly, the biggest worry right now for every human being in the world is terrorism.”
“And Giuliani said, ‘Take your check, we don’t want your money,'” Beck jeered on Thursday. “There is no way, America, that if it was us, that we would allow that to happen.”
Unfortunately for Mr. Beck, it already has, and is presently funding his own salary.
While a large majority of the alleged 9/11 hijackers were reportedly from Saudi Arabia, Prince Alwaleed has not been linked to the attacks.
This video is from Fox News, broadcast June 3, 2010, as snipped by Think Progress.