Environmentalist activist and former U.S. vice president Al Gore is defending the sale of his Current TV cable channel to Al Jazeera, saying that the Qatari government-run network is “honest-to-goodness” news.
During a panel discussion at the South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Gore was asked about his $500-million deal to sell the low-rated news operation to Al Jazeera in January.
“You just sold your TV network to Al Jazeera, which is owned by a government and that government is basically a big—nothing but an oil producer,” journalist Walt Mossberg asked Gore.
“Gas mainly, and oil, yes,” Gore said.
“And they’re producing exactly the kind of fuel you think is a terrible danger to the planet. How could you do that?”
“Okay, I knew when I made that decision with my partners—I had obligations to my investors, but that didn’t drive the decision,” Gore said. “I knew that my principle obligation was to do business in a way that makes the world a better place.”
“You have heard me be very critical of American television journalism,” Gore said.
“I think that the addition of a very high-quality, 24-7, honest-to-goodness news channel that covers international news as well as national — that covers climate, that covers poverty, that cover issues that are ignored today — has the potential to be disruptive in a creative and positive way, and raise the game for television journalism here in the United State of America,” he said.
Gore reportedly earned $100 million in the deal with Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language network operated by the Qatari government, which gets 70 percent of its revenues from oil and natural gas. The network became well known after the September 11 terrorist attack for broadcasting messages from Osama Bin Laden.
Since leaving the vice presidency in 2001, Gore has resumed his former environmental activism, warning of a “climate crisis” allegedly brought on by man-made global warming. Recently he blamed Hurricane Sandy on climate change, saying “dirty energy makes dirty weather.”
While Al Jazeera is “honest-to-goodness news,” Gore also said at the SXSW conference that the National Rifle Association is a “complete fraud.”
“The NRA is a complete fraud because it is financed by the gun manufacturers,” he said. “They pull the puppet strings.”