Al Gore is a complicated, accomplished man. Sometimes, he's misunderstood, while other times he's misunderestimated. But Al Gore is not disingenious. At least, according to Al Gore he's not. The former vice president, environmental activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner and one-time journalist went on the defense Tuesday, pretty much from sun up to sun down, in an attempt to defend his selling Current TV to Al Jazeera. Gore was supposed to be promoting his new book, in which argues that the mainstream media is "suffocating the free flow of ideas," but goshdarnit all his interviewers wanted to talk about was how Al "Inconvenient Truth" Gore just a pocketed nine-figure sum from a news organization funded by the Qatari government. The Qatari government, of course, is funded by the country's immense oil wealth. As Al Gore taught us all, oil and the environment do not mix.
The gauntlet started on Tuesday morning, when Gore appeared on the Today Show. The Qatari oil money thing was at the top of Matt Lauer's list of questions. Lauer asked Gore if there wasn't a "bit of hypocrisy" in a climate change crier like himself selling Current TV for half a billion fossil fuel dollars, $100 million of which went straight to Gore. "I certainly understand that criticism," Gore replied. "I disagree with it because I think Al Jazeera has obviously long since established itself as a really distinguished and effective news gathering organization. And by the way, its climate coverage has been far more extensive and of high quality than any of the networks here." In other words, he understands that the criticism exists but doesn't get why it's so critical.
After snippets of his Today show appearance had the chance to rattle around the news cycle all day, Gore tried to promote his book again in an interview with the Associated Press that hit the web after the end of the business day. The AP seems like they went a little easier on the former politician. It's unclear whether they asked him about Al Jazeera's funding coming from the bottom of an oil well, but the word "oil" did not make it into the final article. "Fossil fuels" did, but only because Gore said the phrase in a familiar diatribe about how we need to shift our energy consumption away from them. He didn't miss the chance to defend his selling Current TV to Al Jazeera, though, nor did he miss the opportunity to take a potshot at the MSM.
Gore apparently hadn't forgotten about his rough interview that morning, because the same defense about Al Jazeera's climate change coverage came out. "They're commercial-free, they're hard-hitting," he said of Al Jazeera. "They're very respected and capable, and their climate coverage has been outstanding, in-depth, extensive, far more so than any network currently on the air in the U.S." Of the media landscape, he said, "We won every major award in television journalism, and we were profitable each year, but it's difficult for an independent network to compete in an age of conglomerate." Gore added, "Corporations are not people. Might doesn't make right. Money is not speech."
In conclusion, Al Gore thinks Al Jazeera is awesome, regardless of whether or not it's bankrolled by greenhouse gases-to-be. Current TV is superior to any mainstream network, regardless of the fact that virtually nobody watched it. And money is dumb, regardless of the fact that Al Gore seems to be collecting buckets of it in a giant tank so that he can swim in a pool of gold coins a la Scrooge McDuck.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.