Feature

Al Jazeera: Gore’s big sellout

The former vice president sold his failing cable channel to Al Jazeera for a staggering $500 million.

Al Gore will have to buy a lot of carbon credits to offset his latest business deal, said L. Gordon Crovitz in The Wall Street Journal.The environmental evangelist and former vice president last week sold his failing cable channel, Current TV, to Al Jazeera, the Middle East–based network bankrolled by the emir of Qatar, for a staggering $500 million. Gore’s personal share—which will be derived from the super-rich Gulf state’s sales of oil and natural gas—is reportedly $100 million. How’s that for a “green” initiative? “But there’s a more serious issue here than hypocrisy.” Gore used his contacts and influence in Washington to procure the Current TV slot on the cable spectrum on the grounds he would provide important journalism. Now that nobody watched his far-left network, he’s saying he sold to Al Jazeera because it has “journalistic integrity.” Nonsense. The network serves as a mouthpiece for Qatar’s Islamist rulers, and routinely serves as a propaganda tool for the Muslim Brotherhood,the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, and other anti-Israel extremists.

You must be watching the wrong network, said Ishaan Tharoor in Time.com. Al Jazeera’s English-language network is “sober, thoughtful, and, flush with Qatar’s petro-wealth, capable of devoting resources to stories other news channels now eschew.” Its dozens of legitimate correspondents not only have provided excellent coverage of the uprisings of the Arab Spring, but also do in-depth reporting from Africa, South America, and even Cuba. And it does all this without the “partisan shrillness” of MSNBC and Fox News. Having a new voice and perspective in America’s living rooms can only strengthen our “marketplace of ideas,” said Gary Wasserman in The Washington Post. U.S. audiences will gain access to international news that our TV networks ignore, while Al Jazeera and the Arab world will inevitably develop a more sympathetic view of the channel’s audience in America.

Not if no one watches, said Paul Farhi, also in the Post. Foreign news traditionally attracts very small audiences in the U.S. Other English-language news channels from China (CCTV) and France (France 24) “are virtual nonentities among American viewers,” and even the BBC’s American broadcasts get minuscule ratings. Al Jazeera America will likely be a flop—not because of hostility toward Arabs, but because most Americans aren’t buying what it’s selling. 

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