Jon Stewart criticizes Al Gore for selling Current to Al Jazeera

Many of us work our way through complex sustainability issues (quinoa, anyone?). My local urban farmer tells us it’s better to buy local vegetables and fruits rather than organic because of the carbon footprint incurred by shipping produce across the country. Is she right? I don’t know; but I know her to be a thoughtful person of integrity, so I’m willing to trust her judgment.

And I have to say, I think I’m willing to trust Al Gore on this:

“I’m proud of the transaction,” Gore told Stewart, reiterating the message he’s given everyone: that Al Jazeera is a well-respected organization with high-quality coverage of climate change issues. (Critics of Gore’s sale to Current TV have pointed to, among other things, Gore’s reputation as a environmental activist focused on climate change.)

“Can mogul Al Gore — who has Current TV and sells it to Qatar, which is an oil-based economy — can mogul Al Gore coexist with activist Al Gore?” Stewart asked. “If you couldn’t find for your business a more sustainable choice to sell to—“

“I think it is sustainable,” Gore interjected. “What is not sustainable about it?”

“I mean, a non-fossil fuel based buyer,” Stewart replied.

“So here you have an award-winning network that has established its reputation for excellence that does terrific climate coverage,” Gore responded. “They want to come in here and give 24/7 commercial free outstanding news reporting and give thorough coverage to the climate issue, why not?”

Stewart argued that Current TV could have accomplished that goal, but Gore disagreed, saying they lacked “deep pockets.” Asking about the “cost-benefit analysis” behind the decision, Stewart wondered about sustainability.

“You had an opportunity to make a statement, probably, about your principles,” Stewart said, “and some people would feel, and for me as well, I thought it was an odd move. Not because of some of the other things, but because it is backed by fossil fuel money.”

“I get it. I get it. I get it,” Gore replied. “But it was an easy choice after doing the diligence on the network itself.”

“Can you see how people at home might think — but he’s asking me in my life to make choices about light bulbs and a cost-benefit analysis for the purpose of sustainability when I just want to see my book. That’s the issue,” Stewart continued.

“I’m very, very comfortable with it,” Gore said. “I completely get the criticism, but this was a good choice and the net benefit for the U.S. is going to be very positive.”

I do think Al Jazeera will have a positive effect on the U.S. media culture. Their coverage is akin to the early days of CNN, because they can afford to do in-depth coverage all over the world. I expect good things.

And Stewart, as frequently happens when he attempts to be serious, is only partially informed. (Hey Jon, call a blogger!) Gore has always said it was not the responsibility of each individual to make everything in their life sustainable. He said these were systemic problems, calling for systemic solutions.

5 Responses to Jon Stewart criticizes Al Gore for selling Current to Al Jazeera

  1. Allie February 8, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    To me this seems kind of silly. Qatar as a country has an infintessimally smaller carbon footprint than the US – so why not sell to a newspaper there. We are the ones guzzling the oil.

  2. jawbone February 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    Well…my concern at the time of the sale was that Al Jazeera was increasingly coming under pressure from its chief funder, the emir of Qatar, to toe the Gulf Emirate and Saudi’s line on reporting about Libya and Syria, which seems to be bring down those secular governments at any cost. For Saudi Arabia, both Libya and Syria provide a place to send their own extremists and militant fundamentalists, also their unemployed young men. They pay, train, and arm them to fight there. I haven’t read about the emirs paying or training their own young men, but they clearly send weaponry (often supplied by the US to be sent to Syria) to the “rebels,” much of which gets to the most extreme fighters.

    And Al Jazeera has toed the same media line as most of the Western press in terms of promoting the fall of Syria’s secular government, praising the the rebels no matter what they do.

    Al Jazeera reporters and editors have resigned (which I’m positive happened), some fired I have to double check this memory) for actual reporting of factual information.

    That was what alarmed me about the sale.

    I actually hadn’t considered the environmental aspect — also a concern.

    I guess I was disappointed.

    So far, how many cable companies are carrying Al Jazeera? Time Warner dropped Current when the sale was announced, right?

  3. russ February 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    I agree with Allie.

    Besides, FYI, here is a link (hopefully) for a “TED talk” given by Sheik Fahad Al-Attiya of Qatar. The video is only 8-9 minutes long, but it packs a lot of information into it. In a nutshell, oil was discovered in Qatar in 1939, but never developed until after WWII. Since then, Qatar’s population has mushroomed, with huge growth in urban areas, from the former nomad society. They are basically trading their oil for water via desalination processes. As the speaker explains at the end of the talk, they are thinking beyond oil, and want to start running the desalination process via solar panels in the near future, such that they can get fresh water and grow food.

    As far as oil nations go, Qatar seems to be pretty forward thinking.

  4. tsisageya February 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Fascinating! that whores turn upon whores.

  5. Not Anonymous, though may as well be. February 9, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    Yep, they’re both creeps.

    Editor Jeffrey St. Clair, of Counterpunch, has done a number of revealing pieces on Al Gore through the years, such as this young folks ‘beginners intro’:

    March 2007 – Glory Boy and the Snail Darter – Al Gore, the Origins of a Hypocrite

    and this:

    March 2011 – How Global Warming Rescued the Atomic Lobby – The “Green” Nuclear Cabal

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