FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: The Best of 2011

The Resignation of Wadah Khanfar and the Future of Al Jazeera

Why the Arab Spring Was the Best -- And Worst -- Thing to Happen to the Network

Courtesy Reuters

The resignation last week of Wadah Khanfar as managing director of Al Jazeera has provoked speculation that scandal lurks beneath his departure. Many have pointed to a WikiLeaks cable stating that Khanfar had succumbed to pressure from the U.S. in 2005 and played down civilian casualties in some of the network's coverage of the Iraq War. Others have argued that larger political matters related to its coverage of the Arab Spring -- especially its unrestrained, albeit selective, endorsement of democratic reforms -- forced Khanfar's ouster.

Both suggestions contain more fancy than substance: it is hard to believe that Doha did not already know about Khanfar's talking to the U.S. ambassador or that pro-democracy strands in Al Jazeera's programming would end his career. (Khanfar regularly ruffled feathers during his tenure.) A far likelier explanation is that, after eight stressful years, Khanfar simply decided that he had contributed all he could

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