Probably the funniest thing about the Clinton Administration is that Al Gore was supposed to be the figure of integrity in it, the straight man to Bill Clinton’s rowdy man, except Gore was at least as sleazy as Clinton. The entire Current TV debacle is an ugly reminder of just how creepy, manipulative, exploitative and corrupt Gore really is.
It’s an open question whether Al Gore really intended for Current TV to be a viable proposition or whether he used his influence to get cable providers to carry it long enough to be able to then sell it off and cash in.
Al Gore’s Current TV was never popular with viewers, but it was a hit where it counted: with cable and satellite providers. When he co-founded the channel in 2005, Mr. Gore managed to get the channel piped into tens of millions of households — a huge number for an untested network — through a combination of personal lobbying and arm-twisting of industry giants.
Basically Current TV was never viable, it lacked programming, viewers and anything to distinguish it from MSNBC, its chief competitor. Even its name made for poor branding.
But it did have one asset. Carriage.
He called on those skills again after deciding in December to sell Current TV to Al Jazeera for $500 million. To preserve the deal — and the estimated $100 million he would personally receive — he went to some of those same distributors, who were looking for an excuse to drop the low-rated channel, and reminded them that their contracts with Current TV called it a news channel. Were the distributors going to say that an American version of Al Jazeera didn’t qualify, possibly invoking ugly stereotypes of the Middle Eastern news giant?
Of course not. But Al Gore was just using his liberal credentials to cash in one more time, as he had done with environmentalism. And even the New York Times, which ran this story on its Media Decoder blog can’t help wrinkling up its nose as Gore’s chicanery.
Television executives and observers were surprised by both the big price tag and the decision by Mr. Gore, one of the best-known proponents for action to combat global warming, to sell to a Middle Eastern monarchy built with oil wealth.
The headline on a FoxNews.com op-ed on Thursday was “Global warming guru Al Gore becomes rich hypocrite with sale of Current TV to Qatar, Inc.” Several analysts said that Al Jazeera overpaid for Current.
“The deep-pocketed Qatari royal family backing Al Jazeera handily outbid any other bidder’s rational bid,” the research firm PrivCo said in a note to clients.
Al Jazeera can outbid anyone because it’s not a for-profit enterprise. It’s a propaganda network whose goal is to influence foreign opinion and policy in line with the agenda of the Qatari royals, who among other things support Islamic terrorism.
Throwing 500 million at Current TV in exchange for his influence and access to American viewers is easy for Qatar. And Al Gore once again put himself up for sale to an enemy of the United States looking to gain domestic influence. And this is the second time he’s done this.
Current was never a full-time job for Mr. Gore… Still, as its chairman, he was seen as crucial to the business. “When it came to distribution issues, he was always available to make that final call. He was always the closer,” said a Current TV executive.
Which really means that Al Gore had little to do with managing Current TV, but the channel used his influence to get distributed.
And now Al Jazeera, Osama bin Laden’s home away from home, is using him. The thing to do now is to organize viewers to put pressure on cable providers to dump Al Jazeera America from their lineup.