Former vice president Al Gore, who sold his struggling television network Current TV to Al Jazeera at the beginning of the year, has published a new book, which among other things trashes television news.
New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani notes the irony in her review:
The public’s ability to express its revulsion at this state of affairs, Mr. Gore argues, “is dampened by the structure of our dominant means of mass communication, television, which serves mainly to promote consumption of products and entertain the public, while offering no means for interactive dialogue and collaborative decision making.”
He also complains that “virtually every news and political commentary program on television is sponsored in part by oil, coal and gas companies — not just during campaign seasons, but all the time, year in and year out — with messages designed to sooth and reassure the audience that everything is fine, the global environment is not threatened, and the carbon companies are working diligently to further develop renewable energy sources.”
Such remarks serve to remind the reader of a business deal Mr. Gore recently made that has ignited charges of hypocrisy and greed: selling Current TV (a channel he helped to found in 2005) for an estimated $500 million to Al Jazeera, the influential Arab news giant, which is financed by the government of oil- and gas-rich Qatar. Mr. Gore, who will reportedly make about $100 million from the deal, describes Al Jazeera in this book as “feisty and relatively independent.”
If there was any doubt that Gore is a hypocrite for selling out to Al Jazeera, then his book should erase those doubts once and for all. But don’t expect the media to call him out on this when he starts hitting the circuit next week.