Jon Stewart Slams Al Gore Over Selling Current To Al Jazeera

Many of us work our way through complex sustainability issues (quinoa, anyone?). My local urban farmer tells us it's better to buy local vegetables and fruits rather than organic because of the carbon footprint incurred by shipping produce across the country. Is she right? I don't know; but I know her to be a thoughtful person of integrity, so I'm willing to trust her judgment.

And I have to say, I think I'm willing to trust Al Gore on this:

“I’m proud of the transaction,” Gore told Stewart, reiterating the message he’s given everyone: that Al Jazeera is a well-respected organization with high-quality coverage of climate change issues. (Critics of Gore’s sale to Current TV have pointed to, among other things, Gore’s reputation as a environmental activist focused on climate change.)

“Can mogul Al Gore — who has Current TV and sells it to Qatar, which is an oil-based economy — can mogul Al Gore coexist with activist Al Gore?” Stewart asked. “If you couldn’t find for your business a more sustainable choice to sell to—“

“I think it is sustainable,” Gore interjected. “What is not sustainable about it?”

“I mean, a non-fossil fuel based buyer,” Stewart replied.

“So here you have an award-winning network that has established its reputation for excellence that does terrific climate coverage,” Gore responded. “They want to come in here and give 24/7 commercial free outstanding news reporting and give thorough coverage to the climate issue, why not?”

Stewart argued that Current TV could have accomplished that goal, but Gore disagreed, saying they lacked “deep pockets.” Asking about the “cost-benefit analysis” behind the decision, Stewart wondered about sustainability.

“You had an opportunity to make a statement, probably, about your principles,” Stewart said, “and some people would feel, and for me as well, I thought it was an odd move. Not because of some of the other things, but because it is backed by fossil fuel money.”

“I get it. I get it. I get it,” Gore replied. “But it was an easy choice after doing the diligence on the network itself.”

“Can you see how people at home might think — but he’s asking me in my life to make choices about light bulbs and a cost-benefit analysis for the purpose of sustainability when I just want to see my book. That’s the issue,” Stewart continued.

“I’m very, very comfortable with it,” Gore said. “I completely get the criticism, but this was a good choice and the net benefit for the U.S. is going to be very positive.”

I do agree that Al Jazeera will have a positive effect on the U.S. media culture. Their coverage is akin to the early days of CNN, because they do in-depth coverage all over the world. I expect good things.

And Stewart, as frequently happens when he attempts to be serious, is only partially informed. (Hey Jon, call a blogger!) Gore has always said it was not the responsibility of each individual to make everything in their life sustainable. He said these were systemic problems, calling for systemic solutions.

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