Al Jazeera

About: The Al Jazeera we reference here is the 24-hour English-language news and current affairs TV channel based in Qatar, not the Arabic-language Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera English has a pretty solid reputation as a trusted news source, particularly because they provide a voice to non anglo-american viewpoints on news stories.


  1. 1 2011-04-04


  • Reporter: Dahr Jamail 
  • Date: 2011-04-04
  • Score: 8
  • Link to Article:
  • Reporting faults and errors: Attributing a statement by an anti-nuclear group to the U.S. Department of Energy; using this same group's quote in a misleading headline
  • Description:
    • Headline reads 'No safe levels' of radiation in Japan. This quote is actually attributed to a single person, Jacqueline Cabasso, who works for this organization:
    • Their self-description on their homepage reads, "Rather than enhancing our "national" security, nuclear weapons threaten our fundamental human security. WSLF seeks to abolish nuclear weapons, compel open public environmental review of nuclear technologies, and ensure appropriate management of nuclear waste."
    • The journalist writes, "scientists and activists question these government and nuclear industry “safe” limits of radiation exposure," but only two persons are quoted in the article, Ms. Cabasso and "disarmament educator and activist" Kathleen Sullivan. The journalist refers to the latter as "Dr. Sullivan" without mentioning her doctorate has nothing to do with nuclear engineering or even physics. This makes a total of zero scientists and two activists, respectively. 
    • This false statement is quoted approvingly without any editorial oversight: “The U.S. Department of Energy has testified that there is no level of radiation that is so low that it is without health risks,” Jacqueline Cabasso, the Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation, told Al Jazeera.
    • If that statement were true, then the article would be not about Japan but the whole world, due to nuclear testing. In fact, the anti-nuclear activist confirms this: "Cabasso explained that natural background radiation exists, “But more than 2,000 nuclear tests have enhanced this background radiation level, so we are already living in an artificially radiated environment due to all the nuclear tests.”"
    • The point of this article is therefore solely to give a voice to an anti-nuclear group that claims there is no role for nuclear fission to play in human life, even though all life on earth is powered by the Sun's radiation, and radioactive isotopes are found naturally in the earth. Because the activist's scary quotes are rewritten to be about Japan, its tone is additionally misleading.
  • JPquake Editor: AHM