From Al Gore to Al Jazeera
By Clifford D. May, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Reviewed by David T. Jones
On 13 January, Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, provided an analysis of the Al Jazeera purchase of Current TV for the Scripps Howard News Service. May is skeptical of the objectives of Al Jazeera English, the channel that will be broadcasting to previous Current TV outlets. He believes that AJ English is the equivalent of a stalking horse, a fellow-traveler for the Islamist objectives of Al Jazeera. Although ostensibly editorially independent, AJ English will instinctively follow the AJ policy objectives designed to condition U.S. watchers to believe that Islamist ideals are acceptable, leftist/mainstream policies.
May offers up some rather weak-reed criticisms: AJ is owned by the royal family of Qatar, a Gulf emirate that Freedom House declares “not free” (but it is still a valued U.S. ally); a hoary 1991 document by the then-head of the Muslim Brotherhood in America that defines their work as a “ kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within ”; and the programming reality that when May appears on AJ, he is always outnumbered by those pushing an Islamist line.
But May’s real criticism is that former VP Al Gore is serving as a shill/front-man for AJ English, having profited immensely by the sale of his moribund Current TV to Al Jazeera. May suggests that global-warming maven Gore is a hypocrite for associating with a carbon-spewing dictatorship whose leaders endorse censoring the Internet. For those that never cottoned to Gore, this is hardly a revelation. But more realistically, Gore has taken advantage of private venture capitalism; he has sold a bucket of manure (Current TV) as if it were diamonds. He adroitly stiff-armed an effort by Glenn Beck to purchase Current TV because Beck’s conservative principles don’t align with Gore liberalism.
And substantively? Al Jazerra English has been operational for over 10 years with no discernible effect. Ostensibly Current TV will give it access to 40 million U.S. homes, but Current TV managed to secure only about 40,000 viewers from that access. Nobody is forced to watch it, and for Middle East experts, it can be useful to hear the current Islamist “line.” It is not overly sanguine to predict that Al Jazerra English will continue to occupy a niche market in our 500-channel universe as one of the predictable noises on the left of the spectrum.