Former Vice President Al Gore defended the sale of his Current TV to Al Jazeera, despite challenges from Matt Lauer about the “contradiction” and “hypocrisy” in the environmentalist’s profit off the oil-backed buyer:
LAUER: Yet even as you sold to Al Jazeera, you in the book blast other television news programs, saying this: “Virtually every news and political commentary program on television is sponsored in part by oil, coal, and gas companies–not just during campaign seasons, but all the time, year in and year out–with messages designed to soothe and reassure the audience that everything is fine, the global environment is not threatened.” And the critics jumped, and they said, here’s the guy who just sold to Al Jazeera, which gets an undetermined amount of funding from the country of Qatar, which gets its money from oil reserves. Isn’t there a contradiction in that?
GORE: I certainly understand that criticism. I disagree with it. 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 high-quality than any of the networks here–
LAUER: But if they get funding from a country that bases its wealth on fossil fuels, and fossil fuels are the enemy you target in climate change, isn’t there a bit of hypocrisy in that?
GORE: Well, I get the criticism. I just disagree with it, because this network has established itself. It’s objective, it’s won major awards in countries around the world and its climate coverage, as I said a moment ago, has been outstanding and extensive.”
Gore pocketed an estimated $100 million on the sale, which was completed earlier this month. Reports indicate Gore had pushed for the sale to be completed before Jan. 1, 2013, in a bid to avoid higher taxes on the transaction.