Al Jazeera America Names New CEO Amid Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 7, 2015  

 Al Jazeera America has shaken up its top ranks with a new chief executive, AFP reported, after a week of turmoil at the US channel operated by the Qatar-owned news organization.

Named CEO on Wednesday was Al Anstey, who has been managing director at Al-Jazeera English and prior to that headed foreign news for the British network ITN and US-based CBS.

The change, effective immediately, replaces interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi who was responsible for launching Al Jazeera America in 2013.

The move came after a series of high-profile resignations at Al-Jazeera, charges of anti-Semitism and sex discrimination at the news channel, and a wrongful terminal lawsuit filed.

Earlier this week, Al-Jazeera issued a statement disputing allegations of discrimination.

“These reports are false and malicious and are designed to mar the exceptional talent and diversity of its employees and the values that Al Jazeera America upholds,” the statement on Monday said.

Al Shihabi said in the statement that the group “does not tolerate any discriminatory conduct and we take great pride in the diversity of our
organization and its leadership.  The recent attacks on us as being anti-Semitic, sexist and anti-American are absurd.”

Marcy McGinnis, formerly senior vice president for news gathering, told the New York Times on resigning that there was a “culture of fear” at Al Jazeera, adding that “people are afraid to lose their jobs if they cross Ehab.”

 According to the report, human resources chief Diana Lee, and executive vice president for communications, Dawn Bridges, also resigned.

A lawsuit from a former employee accused Al Jazeera of anti-Semitism, sexual discrimination and retaliation against employees.

In the suit, former employee Matthew Luke said one Al Jazeera manager told employees that “anyone who supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell.”

Al Jazeera America has struggled to emulate the success of its parent company since opening up in the US in 2013. It has since pored millions of dollars of resources to improve its low ratings.

In Wednesday’s statement, the chairman of Al Jazeera America’s board, Mostefa Souag, said, “As Al Jazeera America moves forward into this new stage of its development, I am confident Al’s leadership will transform the channel’s ability to lead in the US marketplace.”

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