prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Al Gore Sells Out?

Posted by prof e on January 6, 2013

gore_currentIn what is reported to be a $500 million deal, Current TV is being sold to Al Jazeera Media Network. With headquarter located in Qatar, Al Jazeera is a global news network with an Arab point-of-view and funding from the government of Qatar. Since its debut in the mid 1990s, the network has been controversial and that controversy only increased after 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Frequently giving a voice to “terrorist”  organizations (as defined by the US government), Al Jazeera continued to expand and launched an English-language channel in 2006.

By acquiring Current TV, Al Jazeera gains access to approximately 40 million cable households…greatly expanding their reach in the US market. Current TV has struggled for viewers so 40 million potential TVHHs may not be as impressive as it first sounds. And ratings history suggests that global news (from any perspective) is a difficult product to sell to an American audience. If the new network will be able to gain any traction it will likely be at the expense of left-leaning TV news networks such as MSNBC and CNN and other international news channels such as BBC World News.

One of the founders of Current TV is former VP Al Gore. Also known for his award-winning environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Gore stands to gain about $100 million from the sale of Current TV. Gore will remain on the board of the new network, tentatively titled Al Jazeera America, and will have a role in shaping its identity. Considering that Al Jazeera is financed largely by petroleum revenue, and that Al Gore is known for his outspoken views on global climate change, some have criticized Gore’s profiting from an industry that is accused of being the greatest contributor to CO2 emissions. Current TV is reported to have rebuffed an offer to buy from conservative pundit Glenn Beck on ideological grounds. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Glenn Beck’s The Blaze approached Current about buying the channel last year, but was told that ‘the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view,’ according to a person familiar with the negotiations.”  But legacy was not enough of an issue, apparently, to turn down Al Jazeera’s money. As Al Gore himself once said, quoting Upton Sinclair, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

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2 Responses to “Al Gore Sells Out?”

  1. AMZ said

    Al Gore selling out Current TV to Al Jazeera Media is more about media consolidation and global commercialization than it is (as this blog topic infers) a “foreign invader” acquiring a piece of the American news manufacturing pie. And Dr. E, by characterizing Al Jazeera as a media network that “frequently gives a voice to ‘terrorist’ organizations, as defined by the U.S. government” — are you endorsing or accepting this point of view? If so, that’s fine as far as an entitled opinion goes; however, as a reader courtesy, it would be nice of you to include a shortlist of these “terror-endorsing” articles, or at least a link or two from these controversial sources. It would add greatly to the discussion I’m guessing you wish to have; on second thought, any journalistic discourse running counter to the official propaganda sanctified by our government is considered subversive, if not terroristic, and can be prosecuted by our trusted leaders just the same. In other words, if thought and expression reside outside the media duality of left VS right and West VS Middle-East in this country, we all might as well be labeled. . .? Well, perhaps it is wisest to remain vague about these claims.

    As the blog topic reads now, you have effectively juxtaposed but actually lumped together the Arab perspective with that of terrorism. Please either be more direct and forthright with this notion or more precise in your framing. Don’t be Glenn Beck-ian! Ha-ha, just kiddin’

    As it goes, I think the average media consumer in this country probably does accept the spoon-fed thought that Al Jazeera Media is essentially an enemy of state of sorts; for people who don’t read much and only haphazardly remember the controversy of Al Jazeera’s “non-embedded” news coverage of the Iraq invasion and occupation by the U.S. and allies several years back makes for poor reference. At that time, Western news media coverage did in fact depict Al Jazeera’s brand of journalism as being supportive of interests other than those of the U.S. war machine, so the U.S. logically began to blow up their news bureaus in retaliation. But hey, they did give the journalists fair warning before sending in the predators. And today, a clip of Sen John McCain lauding the journalistic product of Al Jazeera can be found floating about the interwebs. And we all know that if a war curmudgeon like McCain appreciates Al Jazeera publicly, then their news product is as good as toilet paper.

    By the way, only “in-bed-ed” Western journalists are allowed to travel with the U.S. and allied forces, telling the true stories about the war. WMD’s, anyone? I wonder how much access Al jazeera has to our deployed forces today? Trick question, everyone!
    That said, a lot has changed within Al Jazeera’s business model and executive infrastructure over the last 10+ years, as your research into this topic might have shown. Unquestionably, Al Jazeera’s journalistic integrity is today more beholdant to corporate/sponsor/advertiser interests than it is necessarily reflective of an Arab point of view. You really needed to look into this, Dr. E.

    And all Al Gore is and ever was – is an opportunist. He’s now $100 million richer, made in the same exploitative manner in which he stole a fortune from riding the coattails of climate change controversy. His documentary, unfortunately, was a covert way of shilling for the interests of an emergent but since failed alternative energies industry, which arguably over-hyped the extrapolative scientific fears of climate science. While the interpolative data regarding adverse human-induced climate damage is sound, the consequent predictions still burgeoning data about environmental cycles made for easy points of PR distortion in American corporate news media. But anyway!
    All-in-all, Al Jazeera will only be concerned with competing for coporate advertising revenue in it’s newfound American markets, and will tread lightly with “the truth” just as FOX, CNN, and MSNBC now do. Never fear poppets, big brother is still takin’ care of U.S.

  2. Ken said

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the station a huge plug when she stated that the United States was losing the international information war. Al Jazeera, she said, was “literally changing people’s minds and attitudes” and, like it or hate it, “it is really effective … In fact viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news” (Gornall, 2011).

    Gornall, J. (2011, June 24). Arab Spring Brings Al Jazeera to Full Bloom. Retrieved Jan 12, 2013, from The National: http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/arab-spring-brings-al-jazeera-to-full-bloom

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