Jan 18, 2022 - Economy

Scoop: Al Jazeera quietly sidelines conservative outlet "Rightly"

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Al Jazeera, a media company funded by the government of Qatar, has quietly stopped creating new content for its conservative digital outlet "Rightly," four sources confirm to Axios.

Why it matters: The outlet was launched in February of 2021 to "provide fresh voices that are too often left out of the mainstream media a space to engage and debate the issues that matter most to them,” per a statement at the time.

Between the lines: Sources close to the show say the effort was also meant to push back on Al Jazeera's reputation as a liberal-leaning outlet.

  • In June, a group of Republican Senators pressed the Justice Department on why “Rightly,” among other Al Jazeera subsidiaries, had not yet registered as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
  • In 2020, the DOJ sent a letter to Al Jazeera demanding that its digital subsidiary "AJ+" register as a foreign agent.

Details: The company ended its show for "Rightly" in December. Those who worked on it weren't given much of an explanation or heads up, but a source who worked on the show said "a budgetary decision was the way it was explained to me."

  • Host Stephen Kent is no longer associated with Al Jazeera, per a source familiar with the situation.
  • Rightly's editor-in-chief Scott Norvell, a Fox News veteran, will remain with the network for a few more months but is expected to depart after that.
  • Brad Polumbo, a policy correspondent at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) who worked on "Rightly," confirmed that it was shuttered.
  • "I had a great experience there," he said. "It's disappointing that it was cut short but we'll still have that work we did as part of our portfolio and to be proud of going forward."

The other side: "As far as Rightly, we're still evaluating the brand itself. We're constantly evaluating everything we put on the air," said Michael Weaver, senior vice president of business development and growth at Al Jazeera Media Network.

  • He couldn't say what products might be produced from the brand.

The big picture: The "Rightly" YouTube show didn't draw a big audience. Many videos drew only a few hundred views, although some did draw tens of thousands.

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