Al Jazeera is buying Current TV, the cable news channel founded by Al Gore.
Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab news giant, has long tried to convince Americans that it is a legitimate news organization, not a parrot of Middle Eastern propaganda or something more sinister.
It just bought itself 40 million more chances to make its case.
Al Jazeera on Wednesday announced a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore, a former vice president, and his business partners seven years ago. Al Jazeera plans to shut Current and start an English-language channel, which will be available in more than 40 million homes, with newscasts emanating from both New York and Doha, Qatar.
For Al Jazeera, which is financed by the government of Qatar, the acquisition is a coming of age moment. A decade ago, Al Jazeera’s flagship Arabic-language channel was reviled by American politicians for showing videotapes from Al Qaeda members and sympathizers. Now the news operation is buying an American channel, having convinced Mr. Gore and the other owners of Current that it has the journalistic muscle and the money to compete head-to-head with CNN and other news channels in the United States.
I have two comments:
First, Al Gore is apparently walking away with $100 million from the deal. That $100 million, of course, coming from the oil-rich government of Qatar. Meaning that Al Gore just got bought out with a big, fat bundle of dirty, dirty oil money.
Second, based on what little I watched of Current’s programming, this move might actually result in the channel being a little bit less hostile to Israel.
Update: The irony just doesn’t stop. Apparently Gore and his partners rushed the sale…to avoid Obama’s tax hikes.
Al Jazeera did not disclose the purchase price, but people with direct knowledge of the deal pegged it at around $500 million, indicating a $100 million payout for Mr. Gore, who owned 20 percent of Current. Mr. Gore and his partners were eager to complete the deal by Dec. 31, lest it be subject to higher tax rates that took effect on Jan. 1, according to several people who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. But the deal was not signed until Wednesday.
You just can’t make this stuff up.