LOS ANGELES — Al Gore has taken a lot of heat since finalizing a deal to sell his struggling cable network Current TV to al-Jazeera, the Qatari news service.
Predictably, the backlash started on the right, with numerous outcries from the pundits at Fox News, but Tuesday on “Today,” Matt Lauer pressed the climate-change activist on whether it was hypocritical for him to sell Current to a network financed by fossil-fuel money.
And last night it was noted interrogator David Letterman holding Gore’s feet to the flame.
On “The Late Show” Tuesday, the former vice president said he and partner Joel Hyatt founded Current to “have an independent voice for news and information.” Although he is “very proud” of what the network accomplished, Gore chalked Current’s failure up to the difficulty of being an independent network “in an age of conglomerates.”
Letterman asked about the stigma attached to al-Jazeera, which particularly during the early years of the Bush administration was seen by many as a platform for anti-American sentiment. Gore countered that it’s “certainly not” a propaganda outlet and that its coverage, particularly on the subject of climate change, is highly regarded.
From there he pressed Gore about selling Current “to a gas- and oil-supported emirate.”
“Is that one of the problems with global warming? Our dependence on petroleum-producing countries?” he asked.
After Gore replied in the affirmative, Letterman pushed on: “So you, Al Gore, are doing business with this country that is enabling your ultimate foe, climate change.”
Gore, who seemed prepared for Letterman’s line of attack, politely argued that Qatar has “ambitious plans” to develop solar and wind energy in the region, and once again cited al-Jazeera’s coverage of issues related to global warming.
Letterman managed to stump his guest with one, seemingly simple question: What does al-Jazeera mean in English? Gore confessed that he didn’t know, then joked he could Google it on his phone.
Wait, so does this mean “Jazeera” isn’t Arabic for “Gore”?