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Barbour Aide Hits Back Over Report on Al-Jazeera Ties

Barbour Aide Hits Back Over Report on Al-Jazeera Ties

By Scott Conroy - April 18, 2011

A top adviser to Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is taking issue with a report linking the lobbying and public relations firm that the likely Republican presidential candidate founded -- Barbour Griffith & Rogers -- to the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television network.

Published by Politico on Monday, the story in question profiled the increasingly positive views within the American foreign policy establishment and Obama administration of Al-Jazeera's coverage of the unrest in the Arab world.

The report noted that the Bush administration's view of Al-Jazeera had been so negative that it affected the U.S. relationship with Qatar by 2005 -- the same year that the Arab emirate hired Barbour's former firm to help improve its relationship with U.S. officials via a comprehensive public relations push. Many conservatives continue to view Al-Jazeera as a leading enabler of anti-Americanism in the Middle East and worldwide.

Jim Dyke -- a former Republican National Committee communications director who signed on to work for Barbour's political action committee last month -- took issue with the Politico report's omission of a key detail: By 2005, Barbour had already left the firm and was into his second full year as governor.

"Reporting that is wrong or incomplete can leave an incorrect impression which others then follow," Dyke said in a statement to RCP. "Governor Barbour had left the firm and had nothing to do with this or any other client after his departure."

Though his long career as a Washington insider has widely been considered a potential vulnerability, Barbour has argued that his lobbying past would be a strength in the White House.

"The guy who gets elected or the lady who gets elected President of the United States will immediately be lobbying," Barbour said on Fox News in February. "That's what presidents do for a living."

Barbour has said that he will make a decision about whether he will launch a campaign by the end of this month.

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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