I love the way Al Bore (the hypocritical corporate profiteer) pushed to get the sale consummated before January 1, 2013 so he would not have to pay the higher tax rates imposed by his friend Barack Obama. I wonder if the fat Emir of Qatar will re-hire Keith Olbermann.
by Kelly McParland
There was always a slight odour to the deal in which former U.S. vice-president Al Gore sold his struggling cable channel to Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based Middle East broadcaster. And it’s not going away.
Initial criticism of the sale focused on the hypocrisy of Gore, who owes much of his considerable wealth and fame to his high-profile role as globe-trotting environmental campaigner, selling out to a broadcaster controlled by the government of Qatar, an oil-rich country run by an absolute monarchy that gets its wealth from the very product Gore blames for the horrors of climate change.
Gore reportedly stood to make $100 million from the sale of his Current TV, and pushed to have the deal close before the end of last year, so he could avoid the higher rate of tax due to take effect under President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat. He defended the sale by claiming Al Jazeera provided top-notch coverage of climate issues, and insisted that both Al Jazeera and Current were founded “to give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling.
That claim is looking a bit dubious these days, as some of Al Jazeera’s top talent has been deserting the network amid claims it has become a shill for its Qatari owners and other Middle East autocrats. Spiegelonline, the web version of the German newsmagazine, has a lengthy report on the departures, which it says includes reporters and anchors from Paris, London, Moscow, Beirut and Cairo. Though previously lauded for its willingness to confront Middle Eastern regimes, it says, since the advent of the Arab Spring it “has shamelessly fawned upon the new rulers.”
Today, when Egyptians protest against President Mohammad Morsi and the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Jazeera is often critical of them, in the style of the old pro-government TV station. Conversely, according to ex-correspondent [Aktham] Suliman, Al-Jazeera executives have ordered that Morsi’s decrees should be portrayed as pearls of wisdom.[……] “In Egypt we have become the palace broadcaster for Morsi.”
It reports that the Emir of Qatar, who visited Gaza in October and pledged $400 million to Hamas, its terrorist rulers, is increasingly intolerant of independent voices:
A prominent correspondent who, until one year ago, used to report in Beirut for the network, says: “Al-Jazeera takes a clear position in every country from which it reports — not based on journalistic priorities, but rather on the interests of the Foreign Ministry of Qatar,” he says. “In order to maintain my integrity as a reporter, I had to quit.”
Critics say that the emir now essentially trusts only his own people: The network’s director general is now a relative of the emir, as is the head of the advisory board. They are seemingly required to follow political guidelines laid down by the palace — instead of serving the interests of viewers. [……..]
Signs of disaffection were evident even before the sale of Current TV closed. In September, Britain’s The Guardian reported that staff members had protested after being ordered to re-edit a UN report to give more prominence to the emir.
Journalists had produced a package of the UN debate, topped with excerpts of President Obama’s speech, last Tuesday when a last-minute instruction came from Salah Negm, the Qatar-based news director, who ordered the video to be re-edited to lead with the comments from Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
Despite protests from staff that the emir’s comments – a repetition of previous calls for Arab intervention in Syria – were not the most important aspect of the UN debate, the two-minute video was re-edited and Obama’s speech was relegated to the end of the package.
The emir’s visit to Gaza came just a few weeks later, the first visit by a head of state since Hamas gained control in 2007. Al Jazeera paid $500 million for Current TV not for its audience — it averaged just 40,000 on most nights — but because it can be viewed in 40 million U.S. homes. The idea was to provide a conduit to U.S. viewers for independent-minded coverage of the Middle East. But an organization increasingly aligned to the political agenda of an all-powerful Qatari emir, and friend to Hamas, may find it difficult to muster much enthusiasm among a U.S. audience, even if it has a friend in Al Gore.
Read the rest – Al Jazeera, fresh off purchase of Al Gore’s cable channel, accused of increasing bias