Al Jazeera America, the American news channel for Al Jazeera, axed its CEO, and three other executives from the news network resigned this week.
Ehab Al Shihabi is no longer CEO. The Daily Beast argued that Al Shihabi wasn’t fired but just demoted and quoted an e-mail from Al-Shihabi saying he is “delighted” and “excited” about being replaced as CEO.
Al Shihabi e-mailed staff that he would still be COO for Al Jazeera America but the New York Times quoted an anonymous executive saying he would be removed from that role soon.
Along with the news about the CEO position, Marcy McGinness resigned May 4, accusing the network in an interview with the New York Times of a “culture of fear” among employees scared of going against CEO Al Shihabi.
McGinnis was a senior vice president for newsgathering and a senior vice president for outreach. In an e-mail announcing her resignation quoted by the Daily Beast, McGinnis explained the reason she was leaving was Al Shihabi. “Last week, Ehab reminded us at the Senior Leadership meeting and again at the All Hands meeting that anyone who felt they could not support the decisions or direction set forth by him and the Al Jazeera Media Network would be welcome to leave. I find myself at that crossroads now and so have decided to resign,” she e-mailed staff.
In addition to her resignation, chief of human resources Diana Lee and executive vice president for communications Dawn Bridges both resigned April 30.
In addition, the network’s former director of media and archive management Matthew Luke announced a $15 million lawsuit against Al Jazeera Amerca. “The complaint contains accusations of anti-Semitism, sexual discrimination and episodes of retribution against employees,” the New York Times reported.
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Luke “said he had been fired after he complained to human resources about Osman Mahmud, the network’s senior vice president for broadcast operations and technology. The suit accused Mr. Mahmud of being anti-Semitic and sexist,” the Times reported.
Mahmud told the Washington Post the claims were “a pack of lies, completely.”
Al Jazeera America told the Washington Post it “does not comment on pending litigation.”
The Times also reported anonymously-sourced claims that Al Shihabi “threatened to sue [host Ali] Velshi and fire him,” but Velshi is still employed. Al Shihabi denied the claims.
iMediaEthics has written to Al Jazeera for comment.