American Elephants

Al Gore Sells Out for $100 Million Return on Failed Investment by The Elephant's Child

Al Gore’s Current TV channel has been famous for the fact that nobody watched it. Not one of his better investments, but former Vice President Gore is very good at rent seeking. Mr. Gore and his co-investors just sold liberal cable channel Current TV to Al Jazeera, the network bankrolled by the emir of Qatar.

Current’s owners could have simply said they were selling to the highest bidder, with the emir paying an estimated $500 million for a network with only 22,000 viewers. Instead they attempted to glorify Al Jazeera.

Co-founder Joel Hyatt, a lawyer and Democratic fundraiser 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.” Among them: “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.”

Mr. Hyatt also asserted that “Al and I did significant due diligence.” He wrote that he spent a week at Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Qatar and was impressed by the “journalistic integrity” he saw there.

The Middle East Quarterly profile titled “The Two Faces of Al Jazeera” gave the network good marks for programming outside the emir’s interests, but Al Jazeera continues “to inflame Arab resentments in its promotion of anti-Americanism, Sunni sectarianism and in recent years, Islamism.”

Before buying Current TV, Al Jazeera managed to get access to only a few million cable households in the US. A former vice president justifying a $100 million bonus for a failed enterprise is not the best judge of “journalistic integrity.”

Barry Rubin says “al-Jazeera is a radical media outlet run by people who are anti-American, anti-Christian, antisemitic, and anti-Western. It is an instrument of extremist revolutionary movements. On a number of occasions it has lent itself to promote and be used by violent terrorist groups.”

“While al-Jazeera is more open to dissenting views than previous state-controlled media this is misleading.  It is more open in English than in Arabic but former staffers in the English-language section have spoken about how it is not a free agent but the news is slanted to please the Qatari government which owns it. ”

Qatar is the most pro-Iran Arab government. It brokered the Fatah-Hamas deal which soon led to the Hamas coup. …It is also the leading supplier of arms to the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. On every issue, Qatar has taken a more radical, anti-American positions than all other Arab countries except Syria. It was also the key financier of the overthrow of the Libyan regime.

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