When the news broke this morning that Al Gore’s progressive TV channel, Current, was being sold to Al-Jazeera there were lots of reactions. For Fox it was an opportunity to drag the former Vice-President across the coals, accusing him of hypocrisy and the inevitable conclusion that he’s the one pallin’ around with terrorists now.
So just what IS going on with this sale? I admit when I heard Bill Press this morning telling us about the network changing hands, I was torn. While I don’t automatically jump to the errant conclusion that all Muslims are terrorists, ergo an Arab-owned channel supports terrorism, I was puzzled as to why 1) they would want an American network and 2) why Gore would sell his baby. It just didn’t make any sense to me. So I tried to find out.
In a note sent to Current employees on Wednesday afternoon, co-owner Joel Hyatt explained:
When considering the several suitors who were interested in acquiring Current, it became clear to us that Al Jazeera was founded with the same goals we had for Current: To give voice to those whose voices are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the important stories that no one else is telling. Al Jazeera, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us.
The note goes on to say that Hyatt and Gore did their “due diligence” and were impressed by the award-winning Quatar-owned Al-Jazeera, noting especially their coverage of the Arab Spring. Current has been an innovator it’s true: they were the first network to expand the interactive coverage into the social media. You see tweets on other shows now because Current did it first. So it makes sense that they would look favorable on another innovative network.
But that doesn’t change the reactions we’re seeing from other networks and the media at-large. Fox, of course, is positively gleeful in its coverage, charging that Gore “… thinks conservatives are bad but Al Jazeera is his kind of folks.” By extension, we “lefties” love Al-Jazeera, including Hillary Clinton who has called the network “real news.” Maybe Fox is just pissed because they know that they are not real news.
There is an axiom that, in my 50+ years I have found to be true: one does not accuse others of something that they, themselves, would not do. In light of this, I find Fox’s accusations that Al-Jazeera airs “… anti-American, anti-Israel and pro-terror positions” to be nothing more than projection – if they allow propaganda to control their coverage then surely everyone else must do the same. They are probably still in a snit because Gore and Hyatt refused to sell the network to Glenn Beck last year.
It hasn’t been an easy sale, though. Several cable distributors have refused to carry the network, tentatively to be called Al-Jazeera America. The network will continue to be based in New York and 60 % of the programming will be produced in the U.S. with the rest coming from Al-Jazeera’s other affiliates. If, indeed the new owners are committed to their stated Values and Core Capabilities (paragraph #7) then it will be a welcome voice in a media that too often bows to the lowest common denominator and values what they call “balance” rather than truth.
I’m prepared to keep an open mind. I watch Cenk and the Young Turks every day and admire his no BS coverage. If he can continue to provide that then I will continue to watch. But if he should decide that he is no longer free to bring me the information in his own inimitable way, then that will be a big red flag. I do agree with Hyatt’s final thought:
The purpose of journalism is to provide those who don’t know with information and knowledge so that they can become those who do know. Bias and hatred are fueled by ignorance. Information and knowledge are the only antidotes to that ignorance. That is the role journalism must play – to provide the knowledge that sweeps away the bias and hatred caused by ignorance. It is a noble pursuit.
… I hope that Current will continue to operate by those principles.
T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…