A Republican Super PAC has paid for a television ad attacking Democrat Jon Ossoff — one of the leading candidates in an April 18 special election to fill the House seat for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District — for producing video content for Al Jazeera.
The ad assails Al Jazeera as a “mouthpiece for terrorists,” and features imagery of deceased al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, with the clear insinuation that Ossof’s past work for Al Jazeera puts him in league with terrorists.
Ironically, the Super PAC, called the Congressional Leadership Fund, is chaired by former Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman — a registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, home of 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers and one of the countries most responsible for exporting extremism.
Al Jazeera was relentlessly demonized by the Bush administration for its critical reporting on the war in Iraq and its airing of al Qaeda tapes. Yet today it is recognized as a legitimate news outlet even by boosters of that war like Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, who has fulsomely praised the network and sits down with it for interviews. Another Iraq war supporter, Hillary Clinton, complimented the channel during her tenure as secretary of state for producing “real news” often superior to American television journalism.
Coleman was hired by the Saudi Embassy in 2014 through the firm he works for, Hogan Lovells, and remains an active lobbyist today. He was part of the effort to kill the nuclear deal with Iran, and reportedly participated in the Saudi pushback against legislation passed by Congress that would empower family members of 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom and other nation states for damages related to terrorism.
CLF’s largest individual donors in 2016 were Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, the pro-Israel casino magnates. Sheldon Adelson shares Coleman’s anti-Iran animus, and in 2013 suggested the United States drop a nuclear bomb in the Iranian desert to show that “we mean business.”
This isn’t the first time Osama Bin Laden’s image has been cynically used in a Georgia political race. An infamous attack ad in 2002 portrayed Georgia Democratic Sen. Max Cleland as friendly with al Qaeda when he voted against Department of Homeland Security legislation because it did not protect union rights: